David Nzomo, African Rhythms: Songs from Kenya

Amelia Raitt

By Amelia Raitt

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

For English speaking audiences, it might be hard to get a handle on David Nzomo. He sings his patient acoustic lullabies in his native Kikamba. Even more perverse, once the only English language song (“You Must Tell Me”) comes along, Nzomo is asking us questions: “You must tell me/ Which one am I/ Everybody is a sweetheart/ A baby/ A darling / But of them all/ To you/ Which one am I?” It's a brilliant lyric about the danger of loose compliments, so forgive me if you don't believe the following: the rest of the album is just as good. Mark that down to Nzomo's sweetly wavering voice offering just the right hint of fragility to the simple guitar melodies and his innate sense on when it's best to simply stay out of the way altogether (“Osai Ngethi”).