– THE PEACEFUL PROTEST –
If I was a member of one of the most famous groups to come from my country; if I’d won a Grammy for Best World Music Album (2012’s Tassili); if I’d been recording and releasing music for nearly 20 years and honing my sound since 1979… I think I’d have a pretty clear idea of how I’d like to record my latest album.
Doing so inside two weeks. In a tent. In the Saharan desert. Without headphones or effects. Well, that almost certainly wouldn’t be it.
But such is the way with Mali’s Tinariwen whose nomadic way of life and rebel roots have always meant the band have done things a little differently.
The Tuareg musicians released their eighth record Amadjar today; Kel Tinawen is the third single to come from it.
The members of Tinariwen claim they never heard traditional American blues music until they first toured internationally in 2001. That’s despite some evidence that the band’s guitar-driven ‘assouf’ style is, in fact, a distant relation of it.
You certainly wouldn’t know they were relative newcomers to the genre listening to this.
Kel Tinawen couldn’t be more soaked in deep-South blues stylings if it had been dipped in Bulleit Bourbon, seasoned with KFC’s original recipe and placed in Dolly Parton’s back pocket to use as a peace offering with Jolene.
Written about “the Tuareg rebellion and its detractors” it will slot perfectly into the cannon of a band who’ve variously been described as “music’s true rebels” [NPR], “a grassroots voice of rebellion” [AllMusic], and “rock ‘n’ roll rebels whose rebellion, for once, wasn’t just metaphorical” [Slate].
Cass McCombs is credited on the cut though, in truth, he’s barely audible on it, nor visible in the video so, while I’m very much a fan of the Californian singer-songwriter, this track is not quite the example of two powerhouses of roots music combining that you might, perhaps, have hoped for.
Nevertheless, it is a moody, magnificent piece of Malian magic.
Amadjar is out now through Wedge / PIAS.
MORE FROM THIS WEEK’S MIX
BREAD CLUB: HOT MESS
BROCKHAMPTON: DEARLY DEPARTED
SUDAN ARCHIVES: CONFESSIONS
P.S. You can find all of the tracks reviewed above in the 45 Revolutions per Minute playlist below or click to access the 45 RPM Playlist on Spotify itself.
If you like what you hear (or even if you don’t), please engage in dialogue with me @45rpm_Reviews on Twitter. And, if you’d like to receive updates weekly, please subscribe to the email list to get these recommendations sent to your inbox weekly.
– SV –