Amadou & Mariam
To file Amadou & Mariam under that damnable tag “world music” is to do them a great disservice. Regardless of which language it sings in or which continent it hails from, the duo writes pop songs with exuberant, universal appeal. If it’s still blues music, it’s unlike anything else in the blues canon. “Sabali,” the lead single from this year’s Welcome To Mali, finds the duo (both blind, incidentally) in peak form, refining the earthier palette of 2005’s Dimanche À Bamako with some welcome electronic color. Like much of their music, the song is melancholy without sounding the least bit downtrodden.