It’s not often that a stranger you meet in a second hand furniture store has a profound affect on your career. But that’s exactly what happened when Esau Mwamwaya met producers Radioclit back in 2007. The intrepid bargain hunters quickly became Esau Mwamwaya and Radioclit Are The Very Best, only to shorten their title in time for the release of this, their debut LP.
‘Warm Heart of Africa’ does exactly what it says on the tin – a mixture of African songs that succeed to warm your heart and lift your spirits out of the grey mundane world of 9-5 London. But there is a problem nestling under the optimistic lyrics. Though at the centre of this album is a Malawian singer/drummer, in essence ‘Warm Heart‚”‘ is simply another Western appropriation of African music. Since Damon Albarn buggered off to Mali in 2000, the idea of L’Afrique, c’est chic has been paramount, with artists such as M.I.A and Amadou & Mariam offering Brits the chance to get a taste of the continent’s music wrapped up neatly in a BBC2 world music package.

However, putting the politics to one side, it’s undeniably a good album. ‘Yalira’ is a joyous opener to the record, while the aforementioned M.I.A adds her punchy, gritty tones to ‘Rain Dance’. The stand out track, though, is the collaboration with Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig on the infectious and bouncy title track, which is fun, intricate and sure to have Jools Holland reaching for the phone.

By Phil Burt

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