Etran Finatawa Desert Crossroads

Etran Finatawa (the Stars of Tradition) are another in a line of bands whose sound has swept out of the deserts of West Africa. The music makes clear the heritage that American blues has followed. The songs speak of the life of a people and their struggles, passions and pride carried by the loping rhythms that could only come from walking, dancing or riding an animal. Etran Finatawa, while carrying on the style of music propagated by the late Malian master Ali Farke Toure and desert rockers Tinarawen, keep to a gently rocking trance groove that has its own magic. The album is also liberally sprinkled with more traditional songs that don’t go the route previously taken, speaking to more of the Western rock style. There are no distorted guitars or high-energy excursions. What there is speaks to a calm, assured exploring of an age-old tradition that keeps firmly to the path that the tradition has inferred. This is what separates Etran Finatawa from the more aggressive stance of a band like Tinarewen. This is not outlaw music but music from people who are nonetheless as strong in themselves and their music as anyone. (Riverboat)