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Phuti Sepuru does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. Bamako , the fifth album from Simphiwe Dana, marks 16 years of her recording career. The largest part of her musical output is sung in her home language — isiXhosa, including her most loved songs such as Ndiredi , Zandisile , Bantu Biko Street and Ilolo. She is known for fearlessly engaging others, often through her social media accounts, on issues around social ills, politics and her personal struggles, such as domestic abuse. These shared lived-experiences allow the listener to gain a deeper insight into the subject matter on her albums — including her new one — while also making her relatable to, and sometimes condemned by, the public. Her musical identity has always been reflected in her unique sound and approach, her gift of songwriting and articulation thereof, her use of cyclical harmony and simple yet ornamented melodies and cross-rhythms. All are evident on the new album. In the new work there is, however, a heightened sensitivity that brings the meaning of the songs to life in new ways. Dana has spoken openly about her mental health challenges, and in light of her struggles over the past few years, this album can be viewed as a particular triumph.
S imphiwe Dana had to wait more than two years before her album Zandisile was released here, but now - just four months later - comes a cool, sophisticated new set that once again shows how South Africa differs from the rest of the continent. Dana has complained that while the likes of Ladysmith Black Mambazo constantly pack concert halls here, her generation isn't getting a look-in "because the world is satisfied with the old guys". I suspect it's not so simple. There are echoes of township harmony styles in her work, but the emphasis is on late-night jazz, and though she is updating a grand South African tradition, she may sound too western for many western audiences even if her often militant vocals are in Xhosa. That said, she deserves to succeed because she has a fine, soulful voice and an excellent band, featuring classy piano work from Sylvester Mazinyane. This is a more satisfying set than the last one, but she could still do with more distinctive songs, and more of the passion shown by earlier stars such as Miriam Makeba, to whom she has been compared. Topics Music. Reuse this content. Most popular.