Femi Tries Again

Femi Kuti
Day By Day
(Mercer Street/Downtown ***)

Very much doing his father Fela proud, Nigerian musician-songwriter Femi Kuti takes Afrobeat to unexpected places on his first studio album in seven years. "Do You Know" starts as a wry tribute to jazz greats and then pursues a leisurely series of extended grooves until Kuti name-checks his dad at the end. "You Better Ask Yourself" has a polished funk sheen, complete with snappy horns and shimmering organ, only to have the lyrics remind us of the vast disparity between Africa's rich natural resources and its impoverished masses. Likewise, the electronics-tinged "One Two" is playful but still focused on injustice. These may be rallying cries, but Kuti's delivery and backing is so alive that you needn't dwell on the political edges unless so inclined.