10 Songs, 47 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Vieux Farka Toure’s Mon Pays finds the Malian singer/guitarist responding to the war that erupted in his homeland in 2012. The album is a statement of national unity and cultural pride. “Yer Gando” bristles with the low-key intensity of the style that's come to be known as desert blues, where riffs and call-and-response vocals rule. “Kele Magni” has a mellower vibe and a faster tempo; the lyrics proclaim that Mali belongs to all Malians. Toure pays tribute to his elders on other cuts. “Safare”—a piece composed by Vieux’s father, Ali Farka Toure—hums with focused energy. The next track, “Diack So,” reworks a traditional folk song and pays homage to Diack So, a late musician from Ali’s generation. The instrumentals “Future” and “Peace” punctuate and complement the vocal tracks. (Check out Sidiki Diabate’s kora on those cuts.) Mon Pays closes with “Ay Bakoy,” which features Israeli pianist Idan Raichel—whom Toure teamed up with for The Toure-Raichel Collective’s The Tel Aviv Session. It’s striking to hear Raichel’s acoustic piano in this context, and his runs fit right in.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Vieux Farka Toure’s Mon Pays finds the Malian singer/guitarist responding to the war that erupted in his homeland in 2012. The album is a statement of national unity and cultural pride. “Yer Gando” bristles with the low-key intensity of the style that's come to be known as desert blues, where riffs and call-and-response vocals rule. “Kele Magni” has a mellower vibe and a faster tempo; the lyrics proclaim that Mali belongs to all Malians. Toure pays tribute to his elders on other cuts. “Safare”—a piece composed by Vieux’s father, Ali Farka Toure—hums with focused energy. The next track, “Diack So,” reworks a traditional folk song and pays homage to Diack So, a late musician from Ali’s generation. The instrumentals “Future” and “Peace” punctuate and complement the vocal tracks. (Check out Sidiki Diabate’s kora on those cuts.) Mon Pays closes with “Ay Bakoy,” which features Israeli pianist Idan Raichel—whom Toure teamed up with for The Toure-Raichel Collective’s The Tel Aviv Session. It’s striking to hear Raichel’s acoustic piano in this context, and his runs fit right in.

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About Vieux Farka Touré

Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Vieux Farka Touré, is the second son of legendary Malian guitarist Ali Farka Touré. Born in 1981, Vieux was drawn to music at a young age and, growing up in his father's hometown of Niafunké and the Malian capital, Bamako, he began playing percussion, growing adept on both calabash and drum kit. For most of his early career, his father thwarted his musical desires, urging him instead to become a soldier and avoid the many problems he himself had endured by becoming an artist. In 1999 Vieux became a student at the National Arts Institute in Bamako, taking up his father's instrument, the guitar, and writing his own music. During his tenure his ability developed, and by the time he graduated he'd become locally celebrated and able to play in the same desert blues style as his father. He became part of the group backing kora wizard Toumani Diabaté, who urged Ali to accept his son's choice and begin encouraging him. With Diabaté, Vieux gained valuable international experience that would serve him well when he began his career. After being granted permission by his father and village elders, Vieux and producer Eric Herman began work on his solo debut in 2005. The self-titled album was released by World Village in 2007, establishing Vieux as his own force on the world music scene. It also contained the last recorded output of his father, who passed away in early 2006. Over subsequent releases like 2009's Fondo and 2011's The Secret, Vieux began to extend beyond his father's shadow, blending elements of Latin, rock, and jazz into his sound. He also collaborated with a variety of artists on a pair of remix albums that featured music from his first two efforts. While preparing material for his fourth album, 2013's Mon Pays, a political and territorial uprising broke out in Mali, painting a turbulent backdrop to an already thematic album about the beauty of his country. Following a 2015 collaborative album with American singer Julia Easterlin called Touristes, Vieux returned in 2017 with Samba, his fifth solo effort. Recorded in Woodstock, New York, in front of a live studio audience, the title refers not to the Latin music genre but to the Songhai word for "second boy," which Vieux was frequently called while growing up.

~ Timothy Monger & Chris Nickson

HOMETOWN
Niafunké, Mali
GENRE
World

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