Ali Farka Toure

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COMPOSERS: Ali Farka Toure
LABELS: World Circuit
ALBUM TITLE: Ali Farka Toure
WORKS: Ali Farka Toure
PERFORMER: Ali Farka Toure (voice, guitars), various musicians
The man who put agricultural development in Mali ahead of music, but once in a while got tempted back, spent over two years on his final album and completed the production just before he died. Circumstances make it look like the closing of a circle, and it sounds that way too, mainly because it forges such a definitive whole out of his two driving passions: the music and instruments of his home country, and the American blues that he strove to reconnect with its Malian roots. Just listen to the solo introductions, which have a breathtaking sense of being able to lead either way. His voice is seasoned, even weary as it explores some searching lyrics, while the instrumental work from the whole band has vigour, sparkle and depth. Mostly the pace is steady, leaving room for a feast of plucked strings in extended breaks against percussion. Robert Maycock