The idealism is put into songs with a reggae beat. The Jamaican style forms a kind of musical lingua franca in West Africa, and the Refugee All Stars begin where Bob Marley left off. They sing in English, in Krio (a barely recognizable West African English), and in one or more African languages. The reggae beats and the idealistic sentiments go with the English language; the more local tunes are in a style Koroma calls "goombay," one of those densely significant genre terms that are scattered across the African diaspora. It's a cousin to West Africa's highlife and juju dance styles, but the All Stars perform a very rootsy version, without layers of electronics.
Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars come to the Ark Thursday, November 2.
[Review published November 2006]