Na Lengo play it Smooth

Band: Na Lengo
Album: Ingoma
Label: Ozella
Recorded: 2014
Released: 2016

Na Lengo is described in the official release as:
“Africa meets Europe in this relaxed fusion of jazz, flamenco, pop and African music straight from sunny Ibiza.”
And that about sums it up.

At just under 42 minutes, the one thing one can not say is that this album does not overstay its welcome. It’s the perfect go-to cd when you have friends around for dinner. The sun-infused feel-good songs are guaranteed to provide a pleasant aural backdrop, one which never impinges on the flow of conversation. Some of that may be down to producer Walter Quintus smoothing the edges away in post-production.

The group, based in Ibiza, grew out of a friendship between Spanish guitarist Gerard Guse and Kenyan singer Denis Inyani. Percussion is handled by Alberto Perez while Matías Míguez plays bass. The music for 7 of the 12 tracks was written by both, with Guse credited as the composer of the music on the remaining 5 tracks. Inyani wrote the lyrics for all songs.

The first track, Elimu, is a slow tempo ballad that is quiet happy to move along in low gear. In a way it sets the tone for much of what follows. The upbeat and radio-friendly Njo Mbele veers from the straight and narrow with more interesting results; likewise the well-structured Asante. The Guse-written Lala Salama has a nice Flamenco vibe to it which gives the guitarist an opportunity to let rip. Indeed, the one big standout feature of this album is Gerard Guse’s tasty guitar playing.

The very short, at 49 seconds, Ingoma has a lovely dynamic from the start, toped by sweet harmonies. It would have been nice to see this one develop. The penultimate track Mambo Ya Dunia is the one most likely to fill the dance floor.

Overall then, this is a very relaxed paced album which never sets out to challenge and does not seek to preach any new gospel. What it does do is transmit, in music, the quieter side of life on a small sun-drenched, multi-cultural island in the Mediterranean.

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