Cheikh Lo – Jamm

For ten years now ’s music has been one of the delights of West , even if his last two albums have not hit the heights of his 1990′s debut, Ne La Thiass. Jamm represents a return to form for the Senegalese songster.

For a record with such a spontaneous feel, it is surprising to learn that Jamm was constructed in a layers, with Cheikh Lo’s trademark acoustic sound – vocals and acoustic guitar – supplemented in the studio with the range of contributions including on drums and the peerless on sax. It’s testament to the skill of the production team that it’s such a success.
The charm of Cheikh Lo, discovered by his Senegalese compatriot Youssou N’Dour in the 1990s, has always lain in his laidback, reflective music making – although he has been at times underwhelming. Not much danger of that here. Lo’s large-ish band play a fine groove but never obscure the simplicity and heart of his songs.
Jamm features a pan-African range of influences. To pick a few highlights, there is the sweet shuffle of ‘Il N’est Jamais Trop Tard’, the lovely praise-singing refrain of ‘Warico’, Cuban dance hit ‘Seyni’ and acoustic mbalax number ‘Dieuf Dieul’. There is a consistent vibe throughout, but the music is still highly varied and Lo never loses sight of who he is – no easy feat with all these styles. His voice is in pretty good shape too, the twists and turns of his falsetto as bitter-sweet as ever, while the lower-register singing complements his often introspective melodies.
As a Sufi muslim, Cheikh Lo’s music has always had a quiet spirit. Despite its dance-friendly vibe and plurality of styles, that other-worldly concern is always humming in the background on Jamm. It makes for a satisfying record.