Modou Touré and Ramon Goose ‘The West African Blues Project’ (ARC) 4/5

modou-touré-ramon-gooseWorld roots fusions sometimes happen by accident and so proves to be the case with this new collaboration which was born of a chance encounter in a Moroccan café in London between Senegalese vocalist Modou Touré and British blues guitarist Ramon Goose. The former is in fact the son of Ousmane Touré who performed with Touré Kunda, a popular band in France. Goose has some impressive musical credentials himself since he has toured with the likes of Eric Bibb, Pee Wee Ellis and Charlie Musselwhite. One might be tempted to makes parallels with the pairing of Ali Farka Touré and Ry Cooder that produced the masterpiece recording, ‘Talking Timbuktu’, but that would be unfair and in any case the music here spans across the African continent from west all the way down to South Africa. If the spirit of Ali and Ry in tandem is at all evoked, then it is probably with ‘Sahara Blues’ that is typically laid back, as is most of the album, where the gentle vocals of Touré are wonderfully accompanied by the electric slide guitar of Goose, and this is greatly aided by the simple yet effective acoustic guitar support from Abdoulaye Samb. Arguably an even more compelling piece is the similarly pared feel of ‘Cassamance River Blues’ and this features a fine guitar solo from Goose. An uptempo number in more of a blues-rock vein comes in the joint vocal chants on ‘Lolambe’ while the kora of Diabel Cissokho is featured on the more conventional sounding mid-tempo western beat of ‘The Lighthouse Keeper’. For a complete change of style, ‘Kayre’ conjurs up the South African township jive to perfection and is an unexpected treat for the listener, and is a song depicting the fight for freedom and liberty and against suffering and slavery. A fine debut album by this pairing and hopefully not the last.

Tim Stenhouse