Chiwoniso - Rebel Woman

2009-03-18 08:10
 
Rebel Woman
 
Zimbabwean folk-pop diva Chiwoniso is a modern woman living a proudly African life - in today's messed-up Harare. She opens Rebel Woman with a Shona song about the healing power of ancestors. Her awareness of the need for healing infuses the whole album with the mixed scent of hope and sorrow.

The Shona numbers are spiritual shouts, sometimes asking God why life is so unjust, while the English songs are mostly secular pleas for peace and humanity.

The switch between languages can be difficult to relax into - and the English lyrics tend to sound a bit well-worn and literal, especially to anyone who's heard all the same sentiments belted out at South African political rallies in the 1980s. It doesn't make the words any less true, just harder to groove to.

But the praise Chiwoniso's receiving internationally is justified. She unites the best of the sounds that define Southern African folk music (that's "world music" to European and American readers) together with her own free-spirited sense of melody in a generous collection of tracks. And the title track - a moving evocation of a broken woman soldier taking a cigar-break in worn sneakers - is unforgettable.

(All lyric translations are included in the booklet that matches the beautifully designed album packaging)

This Zimbabwean folk-pop diva's release is a topical and essential recording. Her counterpointive Mbira and guitar-based compositions offer a cooling, moving respite from rock 'n roll's interminable 1-2-3-4, pop's ass-in-yr-face sex appeal, hip-hop's look-at-me culture and kwaito's growling attacks.

What to read next: Kalahari

Peter 2009/03/22 5:25 AM
Unfortunately the clips are so short that one cannot get a good impressions about the songs. 'Only One World' is this an instrumental piece or has it lyrics? 'Listen to the Breeze' plays a nice intro but is terminated after the first word.
Maz 2009/03/22 9:32 AM
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Strong, powerful lyrics. A fantastic talent.
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