on 23 February 2016
I know some lovers of Malian music may have been put off by Vieux's more recent excursions into a more heavy westernised rock sound.
For financial reasons he doesnt tour extensively with a full African band, but just with backing of bass and drums.
Whilst he can still play more traditional songs and rhythms with the reduced line up, Vieux's touring set as witnessed recently also includes Hendrix-like psychedelic rock (he is a phenomenal guitarist) and some crowd-pleasing 'dancey' numbers.As a live performer, in the West at least, he is a bit of a 'showman'.
Vieux has studied music, travelled, and in today's accessible world obviously listened to a broad spectrum of music, like most of us.
It is therefore virtually impossible for young African musicians not to be affected by other musical forms such as western blues, soul and folk, jazz, Afro-Cuban beats, and even pop,trip-hop etc.
As there has almost always been some cross-fertilisation of musical styles and traditions as people travel, l don't think we should get too hung up on how 'authentic' music is, as long as it is played with integrity from the heart of the performer(s).
I had previously only heard Vieux's impressive first album which has a fairly rough bluesy African roots sound as well as some more delicate melodies, and on which he duets with his late father Ali Farka Toure, and Toumani Diabate amongst other older musicians.
I dont know how far 'West' Vieux has travelled in musical style on his intervening records, but 'Mon Pays' is a beautiful album which seems to be firmly rooted in tradition.
Many African instruments are featured, the songs mostly follow traditional patterns, and the overall soundscape is mellow, semi-acoustic and melodic.
OK the production is far smoother than on his first album, and instruments such as piano appear sparingly, but the overall vibe is firmly Malian/African and the quality of the musicianship across the board is superb.
l agree it is important to try to keep musical traditions and the playing of regional traditional instruments alive, but l dont think anyone but a fanatical purist could accuse Vieux Farka Toure of abandoning his musical roots on this marvellous offering.
Purely in terms of consistent musical quality, one of the very best records l have heard in recent years.
If you like this and want to try more quality African music l could suggest as possible starting points the varous-artists
selections 'Mali Lo Lo', plus the 'Rough Guides' series to 'The Music of Senegal' and 'Marrabenta Mozambique' if you can still find the latter at reasonable cost.