Guitars Like Rain

Who would have thunk that in addition to Microsoft and microbrews, the Pacific Northwest would prove a fertile petri dish for some of the best African music being played off the continent? The music here — African countries at all points of the compass — has a relaxed quality you might not find back home. The album begins with the acoustic soukous of "Tcheni Tcheni" (RealAudio excerpt) and ends with a multinational rendition of "Mwari Komborera Africa/God Bless Africa" (RealAudio excerpt) that provides the quickest eye-blink of a hint at what a unified African music might sound like. Other highlights include Wawale Bonane's "Kusanga Ema" (RealAudio excerpt), a Congolese delight, and drummer Obo Addy's ingenious arrangements of Ghana percussion rhythms for other instruments.