The incomparable groove of Keziah Jones, the warm voice and mythic slides of Ben Harper and the profound mystique of maalem gnaoui Mahmoud Guinea in a single project : afro-gnawa soul has finally revived and fused with original blues, replacing the double bass and electric bass by a heavily amplified guembri. Sounds crazy ? Not for Idriss El Mehdi, who in his first LP « Wild Bird » forges blues-funk of a rare modernity and finesse that pays homage to the ancestral music of descendants of African and North American slaves.
Musical maturity arrives with the debut album, « Wild Bird ». He decides to harness his passion for American Folk music and launches the adventure, recruiting talented musicians with whom he arranges every song of the record one by one; the fruits of a rich rhythmic exploration on original themes.
The young man with a glowing aura sings his personal lyrics with a strong husky voice, often addressing social themes. The album opens with the song « No Problem », the hit song written by Pierre Grillet (« Madame Rêve » de Bashung, Nicoletta…), an ode to utopian equality with an afrobeat groove imposed on it. There is also a second version of this song later on in the recording with the legendary Tony Allen.
« Kill the Beast » follows, a fiery message against the powers that be of this world, in a folk tradition refreshed by a swaying rhythm.
A powerful intro with African rhythms and cosmic voices in the Floydian tradition announces « Wild Bird », a magnificient title with a pop spirit where one barely notices the guembri that melts into the pure arrangements.
Then a little detour with a beguiling song « Guembaia » between rock, Brazilian and gnaoua trance with lyrics by Teofilo Chantre, Milo Lee and the ancestral Bambara chants.
Afrobeat returns in force with a double title « Piano for Kayi » and « Goddamn the Pusher Man » that starts with piano and follows with a captivating groove, about an accursed dealer, with mischievous references to Easy Rider and Nina Simone.
The record finale is with the bluesy and spiritual « One O One », a soft ballade written by Lyly M, Idriss’ sister, which closes the audacious, rich and eclectic album. It captures spot on the identity of Idriss El Mehdi, with his atypical journey and his incredible talent.