Soukous Siren

Soukous Siren, a greatest-hits compilation, is a good place to start for those unfamiliar with soukous, the impossibly sweet dance music that erupted across Africa in the ’60s and ’70s and that has been turning open-eared Westerners into grinning fools in the ’80s and ’90s. One of the top female singers from Zaire, Tshala Muana pitches her soukous right down the middle — this is neither the horn-heavy rumba favored by old-style bands nor the exhausting guitar gymnastics favored by newer stars like Kanda Bongo Man. Muana specializes in easygoing hip-swayers, singing in a clear, friendly voice that’s a steady joy (even if you don’t understand French or Lingala, you feel as if she’s telling you secrets). And when her band kicks in on the seben — the interlacing guitar filigrees that make up the second half of any soukous song — you’ll understand why this music is named after the French word for ”shake.” B+

Soukous Siren
  • Music