Vieux Farka Touré ‘Mon pays’ (Six Degrees) CD/Digital 4/5

Singer-songwriter and guitarist Vieux Farka Touré pays homage to his country and its most recent political trials and tribulations on this excellent album which is in fact a clear statement of support for the citizens of Mali, emphasising the positive contribution of the nation’s culture which was called into question by those charged with a diametrically opposed political agenda. The altogether rootsier approach in terms of instrumentation is just one of the joys of this recording and once again Touré is surrounded by his own intimate sounding group with a few choice guest appearances. One of the strongest melodies, ‘Safare’, has been penned by Vieux’s father, the sadly departed Ali Farka Touré, and it is a sign of the son’s musical maturity that he is fully able to imbue this song with his own individual imprint and the number is memorable for its gospel-tinged call and response vocals. Kora and guitar combine on the all instrumental piece ‘Doni Doni’ with driving percussion and some gorgeous kora soloing. One of the most interesting recent collaborations between musicians of differing traditions was between Vieux Farka Touré and Israeli musician Idan Raichel and they resume their meeting of minds on ‘Ay Bakoy’ which is the album closer. The driving uptempo song ‘Nouhoume maiga’ features some lovely intricate guitar from Touré and this aspect of his musicianship is sometimes overlooked and this is further re-enforced on the lyrical mid-tempo song ‘Kele Magni’. San Francisco based label Six Degrees are to be commended for their continuing commitment to the cause of world roots music and for promoting some innovative and this latest offering from Vieux Farka Touré is a particularly fine example. Tim Stenhouse