The only explicitly credited contributions on The Good Ones’ RWANDA, you should be loved are guitar, vocals, and percussion. That refreshing simplicity shines through beautifully and creates an emotionally moving experience that is further enhanced with a small amount of background on the band. The Good Ones is a Rwandan trio of impoverished farmers that was discovered by American producer Ian Brennan (who has also worked with Tinariwen). The three members of the band are all survivors of the Rwandan genocide in the nineties and have said that they use music to help heal. That is rapidly apparent when you turn on RWANDA, you should be loved. Generally, every song centers around harmonizing vocals, dueling guitars, and varying levels of percussion. The lead vocals, contributed by Adrien Kazigira, range from mournful and pleading (“The Farmer,” “Where Did You Go Wrong, My Love”) to joyful and triumphant (“Seraphinne, You are the Prettiest Woman in the World”). At times, he sounds like he is trying to exorcise demons; yet, at others, he sounds thankful for what he has. The instrumental simplicity helps to emphasize the sheer amount of passion that is poured into the vocal performances.
There is a sense of emotional honesty in these performances that is not found in most Western music; However, RWANDA incorporates a number of guest appearances from Western artists such as My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields, Wilco’s Nels Cline, and Sleater-Kinney’s Corrin Tucker. Tucker and Shields both have droning contributions that help to enhance the mood of two of the album’s highlights (“Please Come Back To Me,” “A Long, Sad Journey Watching You Die”), but they do not take the spotlight away from The Good Ones. On first listen, the features are hardly noticeable. These are well known and respected musicians but their additions are clearly made out of respect for The Good Ones and their vision. The Rwandan trio is what makes the album work. There is a sense of true love for what they are creating that emanates from every song. Despite its simplicity, RWANDA, you should be loved is one of the most touching albums I have heard this year.