Bursting onto the scene in 2015 with an amazing set of tunes, a horrendous tale of exile and one Nick Zinner on production duties, Songhoy Blues’ debut was a joyous blast to people’s ears. In just eleven songs the quartet helped remind people of the healing power of music and its unique ability to break down barriers. Its fusion of western guitar rock with some home-taught groove showcased a passion for the humble six-string not seen in far too long.
Two years later and the band find themselves with a global fan base and a wealth of touring experience to help propel their next step – and what a next step it is. Recorded in London with M.I.A/Django Django producer Neil Combo, ‘Résistance’ builds on ‘Music In Exile’s winning formula by adding some brilliantly judged textures, plus a surprise guest or two.
Kicking off with the funky ‘Voter’ it’s clear the band have lost none of their urgency, a foot-tappingly good bassline and relaxed drum pattern soon replaced by a riff that wouldn’t sound out of place coming off Tom Morello’s fret board. It’s a clear signal the band has soaked up a few outside influences while on the road and are only stronger for it. For instance ‘Sahara’, featuring none other than Iggy Pop, is pure blues badassery, the proto-punk lending some of his trademark croon to various wails and finger wizardry. Yet another curious collaboration for a band who thrives in doing them.
Later track ‘Hometown’ sails intriguingly close to Americana, some great acoustic picking and fiddle-work providing a perfect backdrop for a tale of Mali’s beauty. If their first effort was understandably about their homeland's struggles, this twelve-track set paints a more nostalgic picture where Bamako’s nightlife is missed, as is the beauty of the desert. Some may find the inclusion of London MC Elf Kid on ‘Mali Lord’ slightly jarring (or Pop’s guest spot, in all honestly) but it displays a band willing to take risks and continually embrace new influences. By the time last number ‘One Colour’ rolls around you won’t believe 46 minutes have passed.
Songhoy Blues have once again produced an album for all. The small-minded stamp of ‘world music’ does not apply here (or should anywhere really). This is quite simply a record for anyone ready to get down to some beautiful rhythms. In this topsy-turvey world we find ourselves we need more groups like Songhoy, purveyors of grin-inducing melody and true kings of groove.
Words: Sam Walker-Smart
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