If there was one word to sum up the most recent work of singer/guitarist Sidi Touré, it would be ‘natural.’ Captured in a field recording style, Sahel Folk is raw with little to no alterations made to the sound that Touré and his collaborators created, allowing the listener to feel like they are in the same room as the group.
Sahel Folk, Touré’s second album in 16 years, places the emphasis on the talent of Touré and his collaborators in keeping its production simple, though the music being played and vocalized often is not. Featuring instruments native to his home country of Mali like the kuntigui (a monochord guitar) and the kurbu (a three string guitar), as well as a more familiar acoustic guitar, Sahel Folk is a steadily moving work of clean sound not typically found in live works.
The second track of the album, “Adema,” boasts an intricate sound though simple overall, by layering the various guitars used with each playing different rhythms. At times a guitar reflects the melodies produced by the vocals, but never for too long. “Bera Nay Wassa” features more picking alongside steady and calm vocals of the Songhai language.
Though not all listeners will be able to understand the lyrics of Touré’s songs, the emotion that lies within them is clear, as his and the vocals of collaborators Dourra Cisse, Jiba Touré and Yehiya Arby are presented in an organic way, which best conveys their message.
Touré’s Sahel Folk would be complementary to a time of relaxation, or perhaps to put a mind in need of concentration at ease. Having played the guitar since his childhood in Gao, Mali, Touré has perfected his craft and doesn’t misstep at all on this album—from the sounds he creates to the collaborators he has chosen.