Zansa Debut Dances but Doesn't Sizzle

Zansa Music
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He lives in North Carolina, but Zansa front man Adama Dembele has deep roots in the Ivory Coast. To put a point on it, he represents the 33rd generation of musicians from his family! But one also hears American influences on this Afropop album, not all of them good. Djansa means “dance” and this is a party album. Dembele handles lead vocals and, as in most African music, writes songs in which percussion (djembe, shakers, and various other hand drums) is the lead instrumental voice. It indeed makes for great dance music, which is, after all, rooted more in rhythm than in melody. Dembele sings in French, English, Bambara and Baoule. He’s a decent singer, not a great one. The same can be said about the songs. Most find a groove and stay in it, which is fine for dance music, but both the arrangements and the instrumentation from his four white sidemen sounds smooth and safe (though the electric fiddle is a nice touch). In short, this album feels “American” in many ways and lacks the raw and passionate spark that makes West African music sizzle. I liked this record, but I didn’t love it. But check out this promo video–you might feel differently.

Rob Weir

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