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

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, growing adept on both calabash and drum kit in spite of his father's antipathy. 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 style as his father. He became part of the group backing kora wizard Toumani Diabaté, who urged the Ali to give up and finally encourage his son. With Diabaté, Vieux gained valuable international experience that would serve him well when he began his career. In 2005 Vieux and producer Eric Herman began work on his solo debut, although Herman had to obtain permission from Ali and Diabaté before the sessions could take place. By that time Ali was in the later stages of the cancer that would kill him, and his work on the album was the last recording of his career. ~ Chris Nickson

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