The sixth album by virtuoso guitarist and singer-songwriter Vieux Farka Touré sees a departure from previous excursions into rock, pop, reggae and folk territory. Fittingly named Les Rancines (‘the roots’), this ten-track offering is a dense, yet beguiling homage to both the artist’s father and traditional Songhai music. Recorded entirely in Lafiabougou, Bamako, the album features contributions by vocalists Hawa Maiga & Kadiatou Bah, bassists Modibo Mariko & Marshall Henry, guitarist Amadou Bagayoko, percussionist Moussa Dembelé, kora player Madou Sidiki Diabaté, keyboardist Cheick Tidiane Seck, flutist Madou Traoré, Kandia Fa on n‘goni and Souleymane Kane on calabash. Crafting richly textured soundscapes alongside his ensemble, Touré pairs foundational rhythms with the consciousness underpinning desert blues. Built upon the trifecta of the personal, familial and communal, Les Racines’ layered compositions house ruminations on love, heritage and social cohesion. Between its asymmetrical strums and steely backing vocals, the entrancing “Gabou Ni Tie” calls for the conservation of cultural values. The Songhai lyricism of the opener gives way to the Peul “Ngala Kaourene”, a flute-driven plea for peace which imparts the message of unity alongside “Be Together” and “Tinnondirene”. While Touré weaves cautionary words through the delicate “Lahidou”; celebratory refrains of ‘cherie, cherie, cherie’ adorn “Flany Konare”—a hypnotic ode to love punctuated by thudding calabash. Bare-boned and ponderous, the title track cocoons bluesy guitar and melodic kora notes within its percussive soundbed. Similarly characterised by its tempo, the sprightly “Adou” contains lively n’goni riffs that bestow a dedication to Touré’s son. For its part, the instrumental “L’Âme” pays tribute to Ali Farka Touré with its whirling flute reminiscent of Asiatic sonics. It’s these two songs that best betray the ethos of Les Racines—functioning as a conversation between generations and a bridge between the traditional and modern.