Despite how little “world music” (that is, music that is not made in the Western world) gets played on North American radios or in large-scale arenas, it is an indispensable genre — countless musical trailblazers have stolen from regional musical styles to distinguish their presence in the Western pop landscape. World music has created fans around the globe despite thousands of kilometres in distance and cultural and language barriers.
Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars are probably one of the biggest names in world music and their new album, Libation, is a solid entry into their catalog and justification for the previous claim. Libation moves through various moods and emotions, through the good-time groove of “Chamia” to the infectious energy of “Ghana Baby” and the soulful musicianship of “It’s So Sorry.”
Against the ever-changing landscape of pop, rock and pop-rock music, it seems unlikely that most will go for a taste of reggae outside of Bob Marley’s greatest hits and it’s a shame that most music fans will easily digest the new version of Miley Cyrus before exploring a band like Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars. It’s understandable that many don’t enjoy this type of music — albums like Libation come with complex cultural context and a lack of English lyrics, but if one doesn’t step outside the sonic comfort zone then they won’t discover new global treasures.
If you are looking for a solid album with roots from a different part of the world, then you need not look further than Libation.
By Kraig Brachman