One of the smartest aspects of Kandote is how everything builds together. It would be one thing to use songs you already had and just add a children's choir but these songs were clearly put together as part of a bigger idea. They describe the night sky and the outdoors in their first song and as the choir fades you hear wind chimes and what sounds like a gentle evening breeze. They aren't describing Uganda, they are taking you there.
It takes a special kind of musician to make a song with an African children’s choir singing Kumbayah and rain sticks without sounding contrived. Frances Luke Accord pull this off partially because they are such fantastic musicians (listen to the stunning backing vocals on the 3rd verse of Insomnia) and partially because everything about this album is so genuine. Again they didn't add this children's choir to random songs, they put this together for the Barefoot Truth Children's Choir. And this is the spirit of Kandote: inclusion. Whether they are singing an African chorus on the title track or telling "a Spanish tale to the tourists in Rome."
This album has already taken you to Africa. The next track takes you directly to the village of Kkindu right into the Barefoot Truth Children's Choir practice room when Brian and Nick step aside to let their hosts take the lead. You hear the excited chatter and people testing their percussion instruments before the choir instructor begins Amaholo which quickly turns into a call and response chant. The song fades after 3 and a half minutes and although that was the right choice for the album I find myself wishing I was in that room to be present for the chant which I imagine lasted much longer .
Amaholo reinforces something that we have heard in the first 3 tracks. This is a JOYFUL album. There are few things in this world better than music and true joy. Kandote doesn’t ask people to change. It shows them how great it can be to work together.
The fact that this album is so uplifting makes their rendition of Swing Low on the latter half of the album that much more heartbreaking in comparison. I have heard Swing Low Sweet Chariot as many times as I have heard Kumbayah and yet the Barefoot Truth Children's Choir have made me appreciate a song I thought I knew. It is sung with such emotional depth that I can't help but feel chills.
We end with an instrumental piece expertly arranged with a euphoric “oooo” from the now familiar choir over the mostly instrumental ending. I love that this last track is titled Wasswa and Kato (an African term for male twins). The whole album is about unity and your “long lost brother twice removed darker than the night” and how we can all work together. You can tell there was a lot of growth from both sides over the process of recording but this last song shows that it doesn’t matter what language you speak because music is universal.