Lobi Traore Mali Blue
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Lobi Traore
Mali Blue
World Village (www.worldvillagemusic.com)

cd cover A lot has been made lately about how Mali is the true birthplace of blues music, and I find the contention hard to argue with. When I listen to Malian artists like Ali Farka Toure, Afel Bocoum and Boubacar Traore, I hear the sort of rustic passion, confessional straightforwardness and unhurried rhythmic chug that blues is supposed to be all about. And so, already counting myself among the faithful, I found Mali Blue instantly likable. Since Lobi Traore isn't all that well known internationally, the disc's unimaginative title can be seen as a way of giving potential buyers a hint, and buyers who expect the music to deliver on the title won't be disappointed. The album, culled from recordings laid down between 1990 and 1998, is full of pensive, rippling guitar riffs, bone-dry percussion and tempos that range from walking to rocking. Traore's crinkly guitar style and unpolished, wailing vocals are strong throughout, easily overcoming obstacles such as the obvious drum machine on one track and a few intrusive harmonica moments. There's over 75 minutes of music on the disc, and it's all quite killer. Besides the blues connection, some of the same restlessness that fuels the work of Tinariwen is present along with an inviting jam session feel. Any fan of the above mentioned artists will find Lobi Traore well worth their while also. Whatever else he's got waiting to be released worldwide or yet to be recorded will likely resonate as true blue as Mali Blue. - Tom Orr

CD available from cdRoots

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