Album Review: 'Libation'

Apr 8, 2014
Originally published on April 21, 2014 6:26 am

Years since two filmmakers discovered a group of musicians in a Guinea refugee camp, that group — Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars — continues to make new music. Banning Eyre says their latest album is guaranteed to make you smile.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Ten years ago, two American filmmakers were looking for a story in the refugee camps of Guinea where many had fled civil war in Sierra Leone. What they found was a band of musicians, and the film they ended up making also gave that band its name: Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars. The All Stars have just released their latest album, and it's called "Libation." Banning Eyre has this review.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CHAIMRA")

BANNING EYRE, BYLINE: For a band born amid war and flight, Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars sure make happy music. They're a blend of old school, West African party grooves, roots reggae, gospel and marching band brass who's pretty much guaranteed to put a smile on your face. This song, "Chaimra," pokes fun at gossipers, pointing out that the All Stars do not give a damn.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CHAIMRA")

SIERRA LEONE'S REFUGEE ALL STARS: (Singing) You talk, talk. We're not listening. You lie, lie. We're not listening. (Unintelligible) We're not listening. (Unintelligible) We're not listening. All Stars international, we're not listening.

EYRE: Ten years on, Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars have moved beyond their tragic origins. They still sing for economic justice, righteous mercy and peace. But the overall feeling on "Libation" is one of bemused contentment. The word libation refers to the African custom of pouring a little booze on the ground as a spiritual offering or blessing.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

STARS: (Singing in foreign language)

EYRE: The All Stars have always had a special way with reggae, everything from dark, revelatory anthems to folksy sing-alongs. Here, the band's youngest member, Black Nature, sings a lover's reggae number, reminiscent of old Jamaican heartthrob vocal acts like the Mighty Diamonds.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TREAT YOU RIGHT")

BLACK NATURE: (Singing) Yeah, yeah, yeah. I said I'm so glad I found you. I'm going to treat you right.

STARS: (Singing) I'm going to treat you right.

NATURE: (Singing) You said the road may be rocky. But you were going to hold on tight.

STARS: (Singing) You were going to hold on tight.

NATURE: (Singing) Promises, promises.

EYRE: This band's greatest mark today may be their loyalty to classic guitar and percussion-based genre's like gumbae, high life and maringa. These fearless defenders of the old school continue to find fans around the world.

CORNISH: Banning Eyre is senior editor at afropop.org. He reviewed the album "Libation" by Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

STARS: (Singing) Everybody wants (unintelligible) Everybody let nothing (unintelligible)

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.