After three fine solo studio albums and his imaginative collaboration with the Israeli singer-songwriter Idan Raichel, Touré has surely earned the right to a review that doesn’t mention his late esteemed father – although he makes that impossible with a terrific cover of Ali Farka’s ‘Safare’ (which sounds like it may be a fully-developed version of the fragment that appeared as ‘Saukare’ on the 1999 album Niafunke). But apart from that homage, Vieux is very much his own man on an album which, like Bassekou Kouyaté’s Jama Ko, draws its defiant inspiration from the recent crisis in Mali, which led to Vieux and his family fleeing their home on the River Niger and moving to Bamako to escape the tide of Islamic extremism.
On tracks such as ‘Yer Gando’, with its call-and-response vocal, and the ringing ‘Kele Magni’, Vieux directly addresses the events that have ruptured his country. Elsewhere the commentary is more subtle, such as the two meditative instrumental duets with kora player Sidiki Diabaté titled ‘Future’ and ‘Peace’, while the collaboration with Raichel unveiled on the album The Tel-Aviv Session is revisited on the mournful ‘Ay Bakoy’, to which Raichel adds sombre piano chords.
TRACK TO TRY: Yer Gando
(On Six Degrees Records)