One of the most attractive elements of any recording is the expression of joy. Seydu's new disc, his third, has this quality in full measure.
Seydu, born Anthony Zachariah Jalloh, emigrated 'illegally' from Sierra Leone to Spain, and records songs in Krio, English and Spanish. His world music rhythms have elements of maringa, but the sensibility is a general West African one rather than one limited to a particular country.
The involvement of Joe Dworniak, an experienced bassist integrated into the Spanish/Latin music scene, and producer Hugo Westerdahl, who knows the music of the Saharan regions, means the music nicely blends a lot of these influences. Particularly catchy is the opening track "Return to Africa" with its multilingual chorus.
Guitarist Malik Diaw, from Senegal, provides a nice sound, sometimes reminiscent of Cheikh Lo, on tracks such as "Fine fine tiro". Percussionist Danny Cummings, of Dire Straits fame, appears on several tracks also.
On voice and percussion, Seydu is smooth as silk and this makes the music feel almost anodyne at times, however the songs deal with serious issues as well as light ones. That said, "Smile," featuring the renowned Congolese singer/guitarist Lokua Kanza, might exemplify Seydu best.
Notably, the plight of the Saharoui (Western Sahara) is the subject of "Desert Rose" which features an exceptional duet with the late Mariem Hassan, singer of the group Leyoad; she passed away in 2015 so this must be one of her last recordings. As the eleventh and final track it is a powerful finale.
The eleven tracks were recorded primarily in Madrid, as well as Barcelona. Freetown is Seydu's original home, as he now freely travels to and from Spain, assisting and teaching children in Sierra Leone in the arts and culture, as well as giving us cross-cultural gems like this one. - David Cox