Vieux Farka Touré

The Secret
© dr

Dubbed as the Hendrix of the Sahara by the American press, the Malian Vieux Farka Touré has been busy developing his career on the other side of the Atlantic. With his new album, The Secret, he continues to steer closer to rock than to the African blues embodied by his father, Ali Farka Touré.

Vieux, who despite his name is still young at thirty, hasn’t dropped a notch since he cranked up the speed with his last album, Fondo, in 2009. The live recording he released thirteen months later was closely followed by his latest album, The Secret, which gives the Malian singer-guitarist a chance to position himself slightly differently in a better-defined slot.

To fuel the young flames of his rising popularity, the singer is making his presence felt around the globe. From the World Cup opening ceremony in Johannesburg in June 2010, to the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles last February (where he received a posthumous trophy for his illustrious father), the Niafunké native is everywhere, including his recent tour of the United States and Canada with the veteran bluesman Taj Mahal – one of the characters from Martin Scorcese’s film From Mali to Mississippi, in which Ali Farka Touré played a part.

The new CD shows how Vieux’s roots have taken hold in the States, reflected both in his artistic partnerships and in the musical edge to the twelve tracks. The producer is Eric Krasno, who lends a different flavour to the album than that of his own guitar work with the group Soulive. Many of the musicians alongside Vieux are Americans from a range of backgrounds whose playing blends easily with the Malians. The resulting music is less instantly African, yet the sound of the Sahara predominates under an unusual but successful rock-blues veneer.

Although a final duet with his father provides the background for the title song, there are also Led Zeppelin accents in the introductory guitar work on All The Same and Amana quai. The link between these two worlds feels surprisingly natural. After all, wasn’t the co-author of Stairway to Heaven, Robert Plant, spotted in the Saharan dunes a few years ago playing at the Festival au Désert?

Vieux Farka Touré The Secret (Six Degrees/Universal) 2011

Playing live on 15 July 2011 at the Cabaret Sauvage in Paris.


Translation by : Anne-Marie Harper