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Album Review

With his sophomore release, Vieux Farka Touré steps out of the shadow of his late, illustrious father. He's not only developed into a convincing songwriter and singer (but one who happily concedes the microphone to other talents, like Afel Bocoum, who sings on three tracks here), but a stunning guitarist, as well. You can hear traces of his father in his work, but the style is very much his own, flowing and free, rippling almost like a kora, but also throwing in lovely, darting runs, as on "Aï Haïra," where the fills — not to mention the solo — are delicious, powered along by talking drum. It's all ineffably West African, and he's not afraid to play, as most of the tracks top the four-minute mark, leaving lots of room for him to display his fretboard talent. Of course, there are a number of bluesy touches, notably "Souba Souba," which simmers as guitar and ngoni work together. "Slow Jam" lives up to its name perfectly, while the closing reprise of "Fafa" gives a soft acoustic end to the electric opening cut. The use of a drum kit can often bring added urgency to the music, which it does on "Sarama," which is nothing less than primal rock & roll, although Touré is quite capable of stepping away from all that for an acoustic, hold-your-breath duet with the wonderful Toumani Diabaté for "Paradise," where guitar and kora play simply around a gorgeous melody. With Fondo, Touré has created a mature, exciting, and jubilant album, and shows himself already a master.


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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Fondo, Vieux Farka Touré
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