Imagine a little French café, somewhere far from the boulevards of Paris, an outside table — and the Indian Ocean gently lapping at your feet. It’s difficult to convey quite how disorientating Digdig is. Familiarity can’t be taken for granted. An accordion melody seems to float on a breeze; the percussion is light, but calling its listeners to a dance, and the guitars slither between a gentle high strumming and the lurch of a steel guitar. The vocals, when they come, are in French and then again, something else. There are good reasons for the confusion. Although Digdig comes out of the meeting between Bob Brozman, the California-based bluesman and Hawaiian slide-guitar virtuoso, and René Lacaille, one of the most talented multi-musicians from the tiny island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, its antecedents are even richer. Although still a French département, Réunion’s demography has been mixed: French colonialists, Arabic and Chinese sailors and an African tradition, imported with the slaves who were brought into the island’s sugar economy. All have made their musical mark.
Digdig is a strangely sonorous album and ‘Mam’zelle Rico’ is such an exuberant number that Réunion should well consider adopting it as its anthem.Louise Gray