Release Date: May 28, 2013
Record label: Six Degrees
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, International
The presidential election will hopefully restore stability in Mali, a country battered by a coup and the rebel Islamist takeover of the north, where the upheavals have been reflected in passionate new music from Bassekou Kouyate and Rokia Traoré. Now comes the response from Vieux Farka Touré, son of the great Ali Farka Touré. He has developed his own style by playing electric guitar and mixing African and western influences, but he reacts to the events in "my country" with a return to his acoustic roots.
It is virtually impossible to hear any album currently emerging from Mali outside the context of the country’s troubles and conflicts. Like Bassekou Kouyate’s outstanding Jama Ko album, Vieux Farka Touré’s Mon Pays had been planned before the conflicts began, but subsequently assumed a new perspective and meaning. It is far from coincidence that the title translates as ‘My Country’ – this is a proud and stoical album that celebrates Mali’s cultural and musical heritage in the face of the threat posed by the Islamists.
My Country. That’s the translated title of Vieux Farka Touré’s latest album. It refers to his homeland, Mali, and it is a more pointed and political title than it first appears to be. Since early 2012, Mali has been embroiled in a complex series of political crises and internal wars; briefly, an independence movement in the country’s vast northeast briefly succeeded and the government in Bamako was deposed in a coup.
Mon Pays translates to My Country, and Vieux Farka Touré knows the difference between patriotism and loving one’s country. One means that you think your country is the best because you were born there, the other means that you’re truly happy with the accomplishments of your homeland. It’s an appreciation that skirts pride and nationalism and focuses on the positive things that will be left for future generations.
The son of late Malian bluesman Ali Farka Touré has worked his next-generation guitar magic with artists from Israel's Idan Raichel to Virginia's Dave Matthews. Here, in the wake of an anti-music fundamentalist coup in his country, he roots a set in Mali's rich acoustic traditional music. Which isn't to say it sounds foreign: See "Diack So," with spike fiddling that evokes Appalachia as much as Timbuktu.