Jay Lou: Spellings (2002)
Spellings, the Afro-jazz renewal.
Jay Lou's opus is a ride in the heart of good music, the kind we expect from a contemporary African artist: mature, smooth, harmonious and delicately mixed. This album is original in that it uses a guitar lead on African rhythms, which is seldom the case. The guitar, moving easily from a binary rhythm to a highly complicated 6/8 beat, surprises us, while the player does not lose himself in long and complex monologues.
The twelve tracks on Spellings include "Caribbean Tag" and "Tara," both composed by Jay Lou, with Rebecca Arrouvel and Avline as lead vocalists: sweet and tender at the edge of over-excitement. Among the guitarist's other compositions, you will find the surprising "Ozila'n Groove," in which Jay Lou sensitively mixes 6/8 beat with hip hop. "Unforgettable Soweto," "Bantu Serenade," and "Mbidambani Feeling" are colourful tracks in which Africa's sweetness arises. The album ends on the eclectic "Oneiros," where the artist plays the piano and offers subtleness and harmony in a burst of elegance! Beyond Jay Lou's thourough compositions, you will find a tribute to Cameroon's musical glories of the past, such as Anne Marie Nzié ("Sarah"), Prince Nico Mbarga ("Nico Selection, Medley"), Charles Lembe ("Mota Benama"), and Elvis Kemayo ("Te Revoir"): a pure touch of nostalgia and feeling.
Through Jay Lou's Spellings, modern Africa seduces the Western world. The album is meant to reconcile styles and people and to bring them hope and peace. Smooth African ambiance mixed with jazz... you can listen to the album continuously from the first on to the last track and wonder why the artist has not had more media coverage—knowing that Africa is in need of such personalities that take risk—which would reveal another face of what modern Africa could be without the burden of complex suffering and poverty.
Here is an artist with pure talent. Jay Lou's Spellings is a sea of notes that moves the soul with its very rare fragrance. Recommended as a must to those who want to discover soft and refreshing African rhythms where all impurities have been suppressed.