Vieux Farka Touré, The Secret (Six Degrees, 2011)

Vieux Farka Touré's new album may be called The Secret, but it's no secret that the guy can play guitar.  The son of Malian musical legend Ali Farka Touré has made a career out of combining the rhythms and styles of his homeland with some fierce electric guitar, but while some of his work is really good, a lot of it is uneven as well. His new album brings more of the same, which is both good and bad.

The problem with The Secret is that it sounds a little too familiar if you've heard Touré's previous recordings.  The only real twists come from the guest appearances of Derek Trucks on slide guitar on "Aigna" and Dave Matthews with some vocals in English on "All the Same."  Otherwise, while the songs "Sokosondou" and "Borei" have a good combination of energy and guitar pyrotechnics, the rest of the album is too formulaic.  Touré seems most comfortable when he's rocking out, and sounds like he's going through the motions the rest of the time. The only really interesting of the more traditional tracks is the title track, an extended instrumental with a slow but steady groove.

Vieux Farka Touré has made three albums now, and unfortunately the quality of his output has declined since his very solid debut. The Secret has some fine moments, but not enough for me to recommend it ahead of Touré's earlier work.

Overall grade: C+

reviewed by Scott

"All the Same," featuring Dave Matthews

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