'Savane' is the last album Ali Farka Toure recorded, and perhaps in the wake of his passing, the hyperbole surrounding this release reached a peak of superlatives-overload, with the estimable fRoots hailing it "the album of the decade". On that recommendation, and having loved an earlier AFT album ("Niafunke"), I ordered it.
It is fabulously atmospheric, genuinely otherworldly - listening to it takes you out into the Malian desert with Toure's bluesy riffs underpinning each of the tunes, and some harmonica and what sounds like a scratchy violin wailing like a desert wind over the top, a rattling kora drifting in and out and the man himself mumbling his hypnotic and heartfelt lyrics. You can almost feel the dust in your throat and the huge space around you (even in a bedroom in Durham).
But I had expected, from those ecstatic reviews, to be choking back tears of joy and awe and they just didn't come for me. I could be an ignorant oik, of course, but all the tracks have a similar pace and vibe, which may have been deliberate, but there just aren't any gobsmacking moments, apart from the wall of sound created during the tremendous opening track.
So, it's great and a fitting epitaph to the great man, but you know what music journalists are like... They've just got to get their quote on the sticker on the front, haven't they?