Album review: Sidi Touré, Alafia (Thrill Jockey)

 

With a largely acoustic recording one might expect a certain amount of reserve and introspection. But that’s certainly not the case with this Malian singer-songwriter’s third album.

The intricate interweaving of guitar and ngoni juxtaposed with the bright, clear backing vocals makes for a sound that’s dynamic and assertive. In fact, you’d hardly guess from the largely optimistic vibe that – as is the case with other recent Malian releases I’ve covered here by Bassekou Kouyate, Tamikrest and Samba Touré – this was recorded under arduous conditions created by Islamic extremists. Occasionally, however, the barely repressed anger does break through, such as on the intense “Waayey” (“The Butcher”).

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