Saturday, March 03, 2007

VIEUX FARKA TOURE - Vieux Farka Touré (World Village)

Like his late father Ali (who guests on a couple of the tracks), Vieux is a singer and guitarist with a distinctly blues edge who generously prefers to integrate his dextrous ability into whole, rounded group pieces rather than dominate proceedings. It’s hard to avoid the comparisons with Touré père, especially when you hear the rolling, circular-riff laden Dounia, and the way Vieux gives space to each instrument (guitar, njarka violin, calabash, flute, vocals) or consider his self-assured delivery on the two duets with kora maestro Toumani Diabaté. But Vieux is also tentatively carving his own niche, feeling out different avenues of exploration, such as Diallo with its nod to the electrified desert blues of the Touregs, and the reggae-meets-Sonrai of Ana. Courage, which contains a neat lyrical summation of the themes that run through the album (morality, honouring of tradition and praise of elders), positively rocks out with a superb guest vocal performance from Issa Sory Bamba. This breadth of styles arguably leads to a slight lack of direction for the album, but given the confidence with which Vieux Farka Touré emerges from such a considerable shadow during the best parts, this is a highly commendable first effort.

Distributed in the UK via Harmonia Mundi

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