Razia’s latest release is entitled Akory, which translates from Malagasy to “What Now?” The artwork that accompanies the CD includes pictures of trees and children, two of the central themes within the album. Madagascar born and New York City based, Razia is a musician and activist who spends much of her time raising global awareness of the rapid deforestation going on in her homeland.
Major questions and concerns for the future must be addressed by a nation where forty percent of the population is under the age of 14. Razia and her group provide a message of unity and urgency throughout this dynamic recording, rooted in a variety of the musical styles found within Madagascar. She is joined by several popular Malagasy artists, including D’Gary and Teta on guitar, Regis Gizavo on accordion and Rajery on valiha.
“Taranaka Afara” opens the album with a jolt of immediacy. The song settles into a swinging groove which addresses the fight head on. The lyrics, sung in Malagasy, discuss the value of the tree; a living thing that should be cherished and not swept aside for profit. The tender “Zanako” sways in tribute to the forgotten children who will bear the burden of the difficult choices left to them. Here the plucked strings of the marovany ring out underneath Razia’s reassuring vocals.
The effects of climate change are felt with the growing number of cyclones hitting Madagascar in recent years. With the dwindling number of forests, the winds meet less and less resistance as they crash ashore. “Akory Tsikaby” recalls how Razia’s grandmother taught the children to hide under her iron bed when the cyclone hit. The arrangement, with solid electric bass and drums, chugs along full of determination with valiha joining the marovany alongside nice backing vocals.
“Baraingo” is a powerful tsapiky song that takes the leaders of Madagascar to task. Their constantly changing positions and policies lack any regard for progress. Marovany and accordion glide along on this up-tempo gem that carries the energy of the record in a compelling moment. “Kaijo” features vocals from Theo Mikea who joins Razia in a plea for the forests. This hopeful composition balances accordion, marovany and lukanga in a beautiful way.
“Gny Lalagna” is perhaps the most irresistible track on Akory. With the silky guitar playing of D’Gary slotting in alongside the vibrant Razia singing in Malagasy and English, the track hums with accordion and percussive backing vocals. The song talks about the way or the path forward; the path to prosperity sits inside of everyone and that knowledge is paramount to making change a reality. Razia and her group have put together an excellent, balanced record that wears the heart of Madagascar on its sleeve.
Originally published in RootsWorld Magazine.