Songhoy Blues

"Music In Exile"

(Transgressive Records); World Music

By ​Phil ​Bennett

Forced to flee their northern Mali home, these four exiles source their inspiration from a lifetime of hardship and displacement, which they joyously filter through a funnel of optimism and youthful joie de vivre to create a sound that rocks, rolls, shifts and swirls like the desert sands.

Having caught the attention of Marc-Antoine Moreau, Damon Albarn and Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, they now find themselves singing to a far wider audience.

Despite their new acclaim, the band makes no attempt to dilute their distinctive brand of desert blues and what you get on this album is raw and real.

Similar in feel to the sounds of the Tuareg people, Songhoy Blues combines the rawness of the Delta with the trance-like grooves of Mali to create a music that is passionate, entrancing and wonderfully uplifting.

The moods they evoke are expressed by keening guitars, emphatic rhythms and powerful, drone-like vocals.

The result is hypnotic, exotic and quite likely to cause involuntary toe tapping.

One of those albums that seems to go on forever as the tracks flow from one groove to the next, taking you away on an aural journey with no apparent destination, just your eyes and ears fixed on some distant horizon.

Mesmerising.

​Phil ​Bennett

Musician, actor, singer, music reviewer, Phil’s interests cover a lot of bases and this is reflected in the music he writes about. From blues to soul, ambient to electronic, Phil writes about artists he feels are interesting, true to their craft and worthy of your ears.