Bai Kamara Jr and the Voodoo Sniffers – Salone

Album Review | Moosicus/MIG Music | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

Raised in both the UK and Belgium, his father being a former ambassador to Sierra Leone in Brussels, blues singer and musician Bai Kamara Jr returns to his African roots with an album entitled Salone (Sierra Leone in the Krio language), which features fifteen new songs.  A dapper dresser as the cover shot suggests, the multi-instrumentalist comes over as mixture of John Lee Hooker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Robery Cray and Ali Farka Toure all rolled into one, augmented by an empathetic band of musicians, the Voodoo Sniffers, that includes Patrick Dorcean on drums, Eric Moens and Tom Beardslee on guitars and Desire Some on bass.

Although very much based in the Blues, Kamara possesses a lightness of touch, illustrated on some of the more lilting numbers such as “Morning School Run Blues”, “The Rest of Everything” and “Lady Boss”, whilst “Some Kind of Loving” and “Black Widow Spider” lean more closely to the Afro/American blues tradition. Vocally, Bai Kamara is right up with the best of them, full of confidence and assurance, without sounding overly derivative. This is the blues for today, rich with sparkle and verve, although perhaps a little cheeky in places, “Naked Girls on the Merry Go Round” for instance, but this is a good thing. We don’t want our blues to be watered down too much. The arrangements are often rich in texture, especially when leaning more towards Kamara’s African roots, certainly on such songs as “Homecoming”, “Cold Cold Love” and “Riverboat Blues”.

Choice Track: Lady Boss (NSV 493)