Mariama – Love, Sweat and Tears (Musthave / Membran 2019)

This young singer songwriter resembles our new planet, this open world where identities are changing in which affiliations are multiple, entangled, intertwined.

Mariama 2019

Her voice has the stamp and the momentum of West African voices, the mellowness and the clarity of those voices for which the Lied was invented in Germany. We hear, too, the echo of jazz divas or black folk singers, the cheek of the hit singers of London or New York, the spiritual depth of reggae or old school soul. Free, inspired, sensitive.

Mariama was born in Sierra Leone but raised in Germany and later moved to Paris. Her album ‘Love, Sweat And Tears’ is inspired by her European and African roots. Part of an ongoing search for artistic freedom andindependence, the record’s fourteen songs create one of the most beautiful sonic excursions intothe Soul of global Folk and the electronic energy of modern R&B.

The title is self-explanatory and delivers on all fronts. “It’s really all about love, sweat and tears,” explains Mariama. “The single ‘Raindrops’ belongs to the Tears part of the album. The song describes a state of confusion, loneliness, sadness, but in the midst of these dark feelings there is always a voice that speaks to us – pain also has its raison d’être. It can tell us what’s wrong with our lives and where we need change – provided we listen to it. If one manages to face unpleasant feelings without trying to stifle them or run away, a crisis can become a new beginning. It takes rain, so that the flowers can blossom again.Ultimately it all depends on our attitude. There is a quote that says: ‘Some people feel the rain – others just get wet’.”

With subtle bravery Mariama opens a journey of confrontation with the world’s most popular abstraction ”LOVE”.

Mariama muses on this and other subjects via her lyrics, enhanced by spoken-word passages that offer further inroads into her outlook on life, while musically her songs shift from soft and melancholic melodies to vibrant, danceable songs that encompass acoustic Soul-Folk and electronic R&B.

One night, the title ‘Love, Sweat And Tears’ came to me, stood out andwent on to guide me through this adventure. I knew that I had to stay true to this inner vision,” she continues, comparing the process of working on this self-produced album with Manuel Schlindwein as her co-producer to creating a sculpture from a block of marble: step by step, without rushing, laying bare the essentials.

Mariama is currently based in Paris and met most of the musicians who play on the album in the city, including drummer Georges Diémé (also a master of percussion instruments such as cajon, congas and udu), Abdoulaye Kouyaté (kora and guitar), Jean-Baptiste Soulard (keyboards and synthesizer), Wendy Milton (piano) and the late, great bass player Hilaire Penda (who has played on albums by Susheela Raman, Tony Allen, Salif Keita, Youssou N’dour and more). Additional contributing musicians include guitarist Sékou Bembeya (a living legend of Guinean musical heritage and also known as Diamond Fingers), Ballaké Sissoko (kora), Vincent Ségal (cello), and German singer Soufian Tsunami (featured on the song ‘Never Mind’).

Mariama Jalloh was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone but grew up in Cologne, Germany.

Her origins are symbolised by a passport filled with visas from all over the world: Guinea, France, Czech Republic, Norway, as well as Sierra Leone and Germany. Attracted to music from an early age, she sang in choirs, tried her hand, feet and voice at musical comedy and began composing songs on her mother’s guitar. Her first steps towards realising music as a profession came under the guidance of the Nigerian-German musician and activist Adé Bantu, who introduced her to the German scene via his projects Brothers Keepers, Afrobeat Academy and Afropean Express.

Subsequently, she worked with the German rapper Curse and participated in the project
‘Diversidad – A European Urban Experience’, which was supported by the European Commission. In 2010, she signed with the French label Cinq7/ Wagram Music and began working on her debut album, ‘The Easy Way Out’, which was recorded at RAK Studios in London with the production team Bacon & Quarmby (Ziggy Marley, Finley Quaye) and released in 2012.

Relocating to Paris, Mariama reverted to an intimate musical set up for a self-produced EP
entitled ‘Moments Like These’, which was released in 2015 and received excellent reviews that led to concerts in France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Nigeria. At the end of that year, she was asked by the director, comedian and actor James Thierrée (co-star of ‘Chocolat’ and grandson of Charlie Chaplin) to be the voice of his theatre production ‘La Grenouille Avait Raison’ (The Frog Was Right). A subsequent sold-out tour culminated in its 100th performance celebrated with a show at the Théâtre du Rond-Point in Paris in December 2016.

It was during this show’s residency in Switzerland that she recorded the song ‘Stone Cold’ with French rap collective Chinese Man, which was released in 2017 on their album ‘Shikantaza’. That same year, she began to work with sound engineer, musician and producer Manuel Schlindwein (Cody Chesnutt, Selah Sue, Akua Naru and Patrice), who is credited as the co-producer of her new album.

Mariamas music is light and lively. On her current record “Love, Sweat and Tears” (Rising Bird Music/Bendo Music) the Parisian songwriter Mariama combines shimmering folk, filled with jazz rhythms and her soulful vocals.

NMR (photo: press Mariama)