Album Review: Vieux Farka Touré, ‘Les Racines’

Vieux Farka Touré’s fifth studio album, and first since 2017’s Samba, celebrates roots, community, and unity. The title of the album—Les Racines, which translates as “the roots”—provides a clue to its songs. Many are about family and community.

It is a starkly elegant musical journey. The snaking guitars of “Gabou Ni Tie,” the album’s opening track, slither around the song’s call-and-response vocals. The lyrics evoke a conversation between a young girl seeking to find her identity and the community that wishes her to embrace the identity it has given her.

Single guitar lines launch the title track, then blossom into a swirling instrumental. Its opening lines dart and weave around the lush layers of instrumentation, ascending into an atmospheric beauty. The repeated thematic line emphasizes a return to roots—in this case, the sonic root of the song and the essential nature of maintaining harmony within a community. “Gabou Ni Te” is about the constant need and desire for dialogue between young and old, tradition and innovation.

“Tinnondirene” features twangy guitar doublets as foundation for dialogue that glides over the song’s striding rhythm. Farka Touré’s vocals capture the challenges of two individuals or parties engaged in dialogue about political and social issues.

The buoyant, jaunty rhythms of “Adou”—a song dedicated to his son, Amadou Vieux Touré—celebrates his son’s presence, as well as all of the children of this planet whose, lives bring joy to their parents and their communities. The wheeling harmonies, clicking drums, and chiming guitars of “Flany Konare” celebrate one of Touré’s beloved aunts. The album closes with the rhythmically scampering and mellifluous “Ndjehene Direne,” an ode to unity and community in Mali.

In fact, Les Racines evokes a palpable desire for harmony through its luxuriant instrumentation and vocals. Vieux Farka Touré’s rich voice blends well with his stunning guitar work, producing tone poems that explore the depths of our humanity.


Les Racines is available HERE.


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