This week Vieux Farka Toure links up with American singer-songwriter Julia Easterlin. A new one for me too, but she’s taking the US by storm already as the “one-woman acapella group” and the “one-woman chorus“. This new, industrious, loop-machining young woman met Farka Toure in New York in 2014. Vieux Farka Toure has quite a knack for these spontaneous meetings – the story of this album’s creation sounding quite similar to that magical one with Idan Rachel, the Israeli pianist. As with Rachel, it wasn’t long before the pair knew they had something exciting brewing; “within about one or two hours we had created four songs together” he explains.
It is astonishing how easily it appears that such delights can come together. Again, Six Degrees Records comes up with some fantastic stories of how another of their releases came to be:
“Julia Easterlin’s melody and lyrics are new, but they are built upon a classic West African song, “Kaira.” Both Vieux and his late father, the legendary blues guitarist Ali Farka Touré, have recorded “Kaira” before; this time, Vieux explains, “I played it in a bit of a new way on guitar, in my own style, and Julia began to improvise on top.””
Toure must have something special about him to enable him to mold and meld his way into all sorts of different musical environments. It must be another manifestation of the theory that historic west African music forms part of the base for contemporary music around the world. The album Touristes from which this week’s song hails from is certainly a music person’ s album. There are all sorts of musical homages, easily exposed influences and plenty of creative “re-imaginings” – as Easterlin would describe them – even before you get to the three ‘startling‘ covers. ‘Little Things’ is a quasi-original; a rework of a West African classic into a modern, yet naturally pleasing, song.
Sam Garbett is Public Affairs Coordinator for the Mali Development Group – www.malidg.org.uk.
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