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Thursday 20 June 2024

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Salone – Bai Kamara Jnr.

May 18, 2020

Although born and bred in the UK, Bai has lived in Brussels for over 25 years. He could be described loosely as a bluesman but his influences run wide encompassing soul, funk and jazz and all delivered in a relaxed intimate manner. As Kamara admits, blues is always at the heart of his music but this time around he has infused it with his African heritage. This is an album to be savoured like a fine whisky. Past works have lamented the struggles of the African continent and civil rights issues but here he expresses feelings a lot closer to home. Bai’s deceptively simple style repays the listener with repeated plays as he draws you into his world, his rich baritone voice suiting this collection of understated songs.

The acoustic rhythm of the opening ‘Can’t Wait Here Too Long’ invokes the spirit of the old master Howlin’ Wolf and sets the tone as he contemplates where his life is taking him in a bewildering fast moving world – brother we can all identify with that. ‘Lady Boss’ follows with an arrangement that put me in mind of Medicine Head’s blues phase, a lilting tale of male emancipation with some sly humour thrown into the mix. The spooky ‘Black Widow Spider’ is a highlight with a chilling riff and vocal straight out of the Muddy Waters school and though I understand the vibe being created on this album I’d love to hear an amped up arrangement ala ‘Mannish Boy.’

All in all this is a versatile mix and though it wears its influences on its sleeve, it takes the hum drum of everyday life and weaves it into an interesting narrative. With a tour with Vanessa Paradis behind him and collaborations with celebrated African star Youssou N’Dour to his credit, it can only be a matter of time before Mr Kamara is afforded the acclaim he deserves.

Lyndon Noon

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