Etran Finatawa, The Sahara Sessions

Michaelangelo Matos

By Michaelangelo Matos

on 07.30.13 in Reviews

The Sahara Sessions

Etran Finatawa
Few desert-blues bands are this captivating

Etran Finatawa’s back-story is resonant — the 10-piece unit from Niger features members from two traditionally antagonistic ethnic groups, the Tuareg and the Wodaabe. But each of the band’s four albums plays easy and cuts deep, whether you know the first thing about the band or not. The Sahara Sessions isn’t markedly different in tone than their first three. Dry-toned, fleet-fingered guitar runs dance atop ruminative rhythms, like a mind unreeling after a long day’s work. Lead singer (and lead guitarist) Ghalitane Khamidoune’s warm, slightly parched voice is conversational and full of gravity without sounding heavy-handed; the pinched pitch of second lead Alhousseini Mohamed Anivolla lends the stretched vowels of “Djojaréré” a kind of homespun surrealism. Simple tunes like the easy-swinging “Matinfa” and its more searching twin “Is Ler Is Salan” keep opening new doors. Few desert-blues bands are this captivating; in fact, few bands are, full stop.