Review Summary: Proof that the blues are universal1 of 1 thought this review was well written
I was just having one of those days. My good friend had just contracted a nasty case of malaria, a power outage left us all with no ac or even fans to shield us from the grueling Malian sun, and my ex- girlfriend was acting like my ex-girlfriend through it all. In short, I was not my best self when I accepted a local's offer for 3 cups of tea in his humble abode. Yet, as soon as Ali Farka Toure's guitar came onto the man’s speakers, all my troubles seemed to melt into nothingness.
Ali Farka has a sound which can be difficult to acclimate to unless you know what you're getting into. In Yer Bounda Fara
, like on many other songs here, the stress is on Ali singing in Bambara, a language barely known outside of Mali. And while there are foreign elements to each song on here, the man's guitar manages to speak to everyone. The title track, Savane
, for example, blares with palpable emotion. A microcosm of the album as a whole, the guitar weeps, dances around, falls to the background then pops forward again, leaving a profound mark on the listener.
The opener Erdi
is another highlight, with the guitar’s sweeping movements making it come alive, but each track on here serves its purpose and furthers the listening experience. Hanane
spins me as wildly as Floyd’s legendary ‘On the Run’, Penda Yoro
’s use of an ensemble response to Ali adds a very unique feel, while the more steady Soya
give us a chance to breathe. In spite of beginning on such a different tone, the reverb on the higher octaves of Ledi Coumbe
evokes the same emotions in me as Herbie Hancock
in spite of sounding a world a part, while Banga
leads into the heavy sigh of Njarou
, which delivers all that can be asked of any great closing track.
This will undoubtedly be considered overly simplistic for some because with limited backing, this is primarily just a man and his guitar, a far cry from the increasingly electronic stimuli dominating all facets of today’s music scene. But for most, going back to this style of music and discovering someone that’s relatively unknown in the western world will be a huge breath of fresh air. Though Ali Farka Toure has been dead for more than 5 years due to bone cancer, his legacy lives on in the works of his son Vieux Farka Toure
and frequent collaborator Toumani Diabate
. And his message forever lives on through his music, which still serves as a powerful influence on a variety of artists throughout Mali and the world.