New Reviews: March 2007

Reviews by Matthew Forss

Vieux Farka Toure
Vieux Farka Toure
World Village Music 

The unmistakable blues guitar sounds of the Saharan desert were seemingly extinguished upon the death of Ali Farka Toure in March 2006. However, 
Ali’s son, Vieux Farka Toure, has revived his musical legacy for future generations. Vieux’s blues guitar stylings are accented with bass guitar, flute, 
djembe drum, calabash, n’goni, sax, and kora. The vocals are equally varied, but the contemplative and evocative instrumentation rounds out the entire 
musical package. English and French lyrics are included. 

Aman Iman: Water Is Life
World Village Music 

The Saharan desert is once again alive with fresh, pulsating guitar riffs and vocalizations on the third album from Tinariwen. The overall musicianship 
of Aman Iman is a close, but uniquely innovative extension of songs on previous albums, Amassakoul and Radio Tisdas Sessions. The album contains an 
amazing array of blues style guitar sounds, traditional instrumentation and group female vocalizations. Aman Iman (Water Is Life) is an album linked 
closely with the ethereal surroundings of the Saharan desert. The lyrical wordplay contains elements of pain, love, freedom, meteorological calamities, 
friendship and kinship. The liner notes include the traditional, Tamashek language in the tifinar script. Also, phonetic Tamashek and English 
translations are included. Just as water is essential for life, Tinariwen is essential for bringing the life of music to our ears.     

Ben Bowen King
Sidewalk Saints: Roots Gospel Guitar
Talking Taco Records 

The inimitable sound of a steel guitar echoes an awe-inspiring and enjoyable musical journey through the nostalgic street corners of a quiet, Southern 
town. Texas-native, Ben Bowen King, has revived the “roots gospel” music of the “sidewalk saints” from the early 19th century. The steel guitar was the 
quintessential “voice” of Gospel street musicians in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Ben Bowen King brings us several familiar songs including, “Amazing Grace,” 
“Old Time Religion”, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” and other timeless classics. However, each song is reinvented without losing its original identity. 
The tracks incorporate steel guitar, harmonica, jaw bow, fiddle, tambourine, spoons, cymbals and other folk instruments. Vocalizations are mostly absent; 
but, a few brief “moans” accompany some of the melodies. Sidewalk Saints shines brighter than the glare off a steel guitar resonator. Sit back and relax 
on your front porch with a cold glass of lemonade, while savoring Springtimes’ Magnolia blossoms and the soothing sounds of Sidewalk Saints: Roots Gospel 

Andy Palacio & The Garifuna Collective
Stonetree Records     

The unique Garifuna culture encompasses cultural roots in West Africa, the Caribbean and Central America. Andy Palacio is joined by several other 
notable Garifuna musicians on Watina (I Called Out). Andy Palacio incorporates contemporary and traditional styles, including dugu, punta, and gunjei 
rhythms. Watina contains a pan-Caribbean and rumba-infused structure. Instrumentation is traditional with some contemporary arrangements to bridge the 
gap between old and new generations of Garifuna. Vocals are earthy, melodic and the ultimate mediator for the conveyance of social and cultural 
intricacies unique to the Garifuna. English and Garifuna language liner notes are included. Every track contains richly-textured, upbeat and intelligent
compositions that Central American music fans will thoroughly enjoy.   

Mariza [CD + DVD]
Concerto em Lisboa
Times Square Records 

Shortly after Mariza’s birth in Mozambique, Mariza relocated to Lisbon, Portugal. Interestingly, Mariza grew up in the traditional fado neighborhoods of 
Mouraria. This became the influential catalyst for Mariza’s sensuous and powerful compositions. Fado, meaning “destiny,” is music that can be traced 
back to the early 19th century as an urban music that mirrored the social environment in which it was created. Concerto em Lisboa was recorded live 
with a backing orchestra and the distinctive Portuguese guitar. All of the songs are composed by Fado greats, including Amalia Rodrigues, Jorge Fernando 
and others. The CD also comes with a 60 minute DVD documentary titled, “Mariza and the Story of Fado.” The DVD explores the historical and political 
origins of fado in Portugal, historical concert footage, Mariza’s introduction to fado and engaging narrative with English and Portuguese dialogue. 
All in all, Mariza’s voice should capture the attention of fado fans everywhere!   

M'bem di fora (I Come From The Country)
Times Square Records

The alluring sounds of Cape Verde-native, Lura, echo a sense of genuine emotion and vibrant musicianship. Lura represents today's best voice in Cape
Verdean rural music. A variety of jazzy, folk, and island rhythms encompass the true essence of M'bem di fora. Lura meshes traditional, rural music with 
contemporary arrangements without losing sight of her Cape Verdean roots. A majority of the tracks have upbeat, danceable rhythms and positive vocals 
reflecting the island life. M'bem di flora is a unique and highly recommended album. 

Matthew J. Forss graduated from Lakeland College-Sheboygan, Wisconsin in 2005 with a B.A. in Biology. He will graduate with an M.Sc. in Exercise Science in May 2007 from Northern Michigan University-Marquette, Michigan. He will be pursuing an M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Goddard College-Plainfield, VT in June 2007. Since 1998, he has collected numerous musical instruments and CDs from around the world. In 2000, he wrote a paper on Mongolian ethnomusicology, entitled: How Does Music Play An Important Role In The Life And Culture Of Mongolia? Currently, he has collected over 400 CDs that represent over 180 different countries. His general interests include ethnomusicology journalism and researching the traditional/contemporary ethnic music of various cultures from around the world. His specific, geographic areas of study include the traditional and popular music from Central Eurasia (especially Mongolia, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan), North Africa (especially Mali, Mauritania, Western Sahara, Libya and Morocco), Scandinavia and Pacific Islands (especially New Zealand, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia). He also enjoys studying Uzbek, Tamasheq, and German linguistics. In November of 2000, he accepted the position of writing World Music CD reviews for this site.