Vieux Farka Toure – Mon Pays (Six Degrees Records)
26 August 2013
The new album by Malian, Vieux Farka Toure, is said to pay ‘homage to his musical heritage’. Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates has had a copy for a few weeks now and here’s his review.
Being the Son of the great Ali Farka Toure can’t be easy if you’re wanting to follow his footsteps in the world of music, but Vieux Farka Toure grips the challenge firmly. Mon Pays is yet another album from a Malian artist where the conflict in the homeland precludes a ban on music and slavery is once again a primary news story.
Mon Pays (My Country) is an album of sparkling quality, taking traditional music and adding a slight Western twist, the album stands out with its choruses of male voice backing some superb musicianship. Farka, like his father, has an incomparable talent for guitar playing and the tight arrangements are well presented and enthralling. Opener, the traditional song ‘Diack So’, has an instantly recognisable sound and has an almost Scottish or Gaelic fiddle in the background. One of many instrument combinations on the album that make it so interesting.
Currently available as a free download, ‘Allah Wawi’ is an hypnotic piece which is a perfect showcase to the album. Some gorgeous sounds from ngoni and violon and a steady percussive backing.
Toure reminds us of the current tragedies in Mali on ‘Yer Gando’, a calabash rhythm and a vocal arrangement which sees his own voice ‘echoed’ by the backing singers on every line. Instrumentals, ‘Future’ and ‘Peace’ are lovely pieces with the former having an oriental influence and the later having an almost Shakesperean feel at times.
The highlight of the album is undoubtedly Safare. Its melody is again almost familiar sounding and there’s something rather wonderful about hearing a voice in a foreign tongue which makes you actually listen to the song rather than be distracted by any words.
Mon Pays is a well-polished and accomplished album which (unknowingly) breaks down a few musical walls and genres and creates a sound very accessible and welcome.
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found here. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog. Paul has been working hard to save Radio Lancashire’s On The Wire, easily one of the best radio shows on the BBC. Follow him on twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news or follow his personal twitter, @hiapop.>