Although Sahel Folk is Sidi Touré’s debut for Chicago-based Thrill Jockey records, the Mali-born singer and guitarist is no stranger to the international music scene. In 1976, a young Touré joined the Songhai Stars, one of Mali’s famed “regional orchestras” that frequently toured the western Sahel (the transitional zone between the Sahara Desert and the sub-Saharan savannas of Africa). On Sahel Folk, Touré addresses issues concerning his countrymen on songs like “Adema” (about his country’s continuing modernization), while his guitar playing retains a loose, casual yet melodic feel enhanced by the album’s you-are-there approach — apparently it was recorded in the living room of his sister’s house, over cups of tea, with a maximum of only two takes per song. Sahel Folk’s beautifully hypnotic melodies should provide fans of Ali Farka Touré and Bassekou Kouyate plenty of reasons to love Sidi Touré.
Buy it from Thrill Jockey here.