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Album Review

Many sons and daughters of musicians have attempted to follow in the footsteps of a renowned parent, but the percentage who have succeeded in finding their own way, not just carrying the torch but lighting it anew, is a small one indeed. Vieux Farka Touré's father was the late Ali Farka Touré, one of the uncontested trailblazers of African music, and Vieux's debut album was released less than a year after the 2006 passing of his father, which could lead one to suspect a cashing in on the name and reputation of the man often credited with drawing the line between traditional Malian guitar music and American blues. But Vieux Farka Touré's album is such a triumph in every way that the question isn't whether he will carry on the legacy, but rather just how much further he will take it. And for years there existed the possibility that this music wouldn't even happen. Ali, it seems, didn't want his son to become a musician, and actually forbid him to become one. He didn't want Vieux to have to endure the hardships that he had experienced in the music industry. But nature took its course, and Vieux first became a drummer before discovering that his true calling lay in the very same instrument — Vieux plays both electric and acoustic guitar — that had brought his father international recognition. At the urging of Toumani Diabaté, the great Malian kora player, Ali was urged to reconsider and ultimately gave his son his blessing. Both Diabaté and Touré, Sr. appear on the album, adding their wisdom and experience, building a bridge that Vieux so ably crosses.

Vieux's guitar style is, to be honest, reminiscent of Ali's — that's to be expected: the son grew up hearing Ali Farka Touré music every day and absorbed it into his blood. But Vieux's exceptional musicianship hints at more — he's already a masterful player in his own right and he has his ear cocked toward the future, not only the past. He is at once sensitive and soulful but can easily turn it around and unleash a fleet-fingered solo that is so spellbinding you'll find yourself thinking, blasphemous though it may be, that his dad could never do that. Vieux's music is as distinctively Malian as Ali's, but it also lurches forward, easily traversing the worlds of reggae, funk, rock, and R&B, as well as naturally incorporating those bluesy tones that, in the hands of Ali, caused so many to make connections they had never made before. Vieux is also a talented songwriter with plenty to say — his compositions are grand and lush melodically and positive and spiritual lyrically, as well as sometimes humorous (translations are provided). He is also a more than passable singer. Produced by Eric Herman and engineered and mixed by Dave Ahl, Vieux Farka Touré is also a pristinely recorded work, crisp and direct, with everything up front and undiluted. As far as debut albums go, this one is nearly perfect.

Biography

Born: Mali

Genre: World

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Vieux Farka Touré, the second son of the late Ali Farka Touré, inherited his mantle, but his father never wanted him to be a musician and endure the same problems he had. Instead, Ali forbade his son from playing music and decreed that he'd become a soldier. But a father's wishes can't always be law; some children are destined to follow in their father's footsteps. Vieux was drawn to music, and growing up in his father's hometown of Niafunké and the Malian capital, Bamako, he began playing percussion,...
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Top Albums and Songs by Vieux Farka Touré

Vieux Farka Touré : Live, Vieux Farka Touré
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