Best Thing You'll Hear All Day: Rokia Traoré's "Beautiful Africa"!

Every so often comes an album that is so good that you almost want to keep it to yourself, but then the other part of you that loves turning people on to great music takes over and you want to shout it from every rooftop like a madman.

Rokia Traoré's Beautiful Africa is such an album, combining a stripped-down, hauntingly sparse guitar-based sound that allows every note to be heard with the fullest of clarity next to Rokia's mesmerizing vocals, which are sung in an engaging mix of French, English and Bambara (a native tongue of her homeland, Mali).

Despite the foreign languages, Beautiful Africa is deceptively accessible, suffering from no language barrier whatsoever as Traoré's guitar work and enchanting vocals are, in a word, breathtaking.  Each song unfolds like a great mystery that reveals more of itself with each listen, propelled by melodies so infectious that you may soon find yourself singing in a language you didn't know you knew!

If that isn't enough to convince you to lend an ear, perhaps the fact that UK producer John Parish, best known for his work with PJ Harvey and Tracy Chapman, is behind the board on this effort.  As with all of his best work, Parish's footprint is light, but detailed.  He doesn't so much produce songs as capture moments and on Beautiful Africa, there are many.

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