New Reviews: March 2007
Reviews by Matthew Forss
Vieux Farka Toure Vieux Farka Toure World Village Music www.worldvillagemusic.com www.vieuxfarkatoure.com 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. Tinariwen Aman Iman: Water Is Life World Village Music www.worldvillagemusic.com 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 www.talkingtaco.com 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 Guitar. Andy Palacio & The Garifuna Collective Watina Stonetree Records www.stonetreerecords.com 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 www.timessquarerecords.net 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! Lura M'bem di fora (I Come From The Country) Times Square Records www.timessquarerecords.net www.luracriola.com 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.