2015. Thirty Tigers.
I’m a huge sucker for Haitian kreyol. It’s such a beautiful language; melding French and African roots into setences that just roll off the tongue. So that’s to say that I couldn’t help but fall in love with the new album from Haitian twoubadou singer Beken. A hard luck story if there ever is one, Beken was rediscovered in a Haitian refugee camp by a New York Times photographer–he’d toured the US previously in the 80s when Haitian music enjoyed a bit of mainstream success–and his new album was subsequently released by Thirty Tigers. His voice is thickened with age, and there’s a tremulous sound at times that’s just heartbreaking. The songs are gorgeous, tapping deep Caribbean roots over the folk guitar background and straightforward vocal delivery of the twoubadou genre. They hit hard too, when you read the lyrics translated. “Such a beautiful profession as I have in my hand/Why would you want me to abandon it?” True words and thank goodness others have helped bring Beken’s music back to the States for what should deservedly be another round of appreciation. He’s a glorious singer with much to say and the perfect vehicle to deliver his message.