Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Album Review: Bombino Nomad

***and1/2 out of *****

The Tuareg guitarist who has been compared to everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Mark Knopfler has crafted a a fuzzy sounding release with Nomad.  While he doesn't resemble those giants of guitar to these ears, his playing does have a sound very akin to the producer of this album Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. The result of this pairing is a delightful run through of Bombino's style.

The loose "Amidinine" sets the tone with its blowing sand scuffed riffs howling around as Bombino (real name Omara Moctar) sings in his native tongue of Tamashek.  "Ahulakamine Hulan" is more of a rambling acoustic outlier; most of Bombino's tunes (not unlike early Black Keys) revolve around one meaty electric riff and then spiral small changes off as the band progresses, building up interesting phrases amongst the repetition. The upbeat distorted "Azamane Tiliade" is more the norm of this groups style.

You can hear some of Auerbach's influences as the band has opened up musically from their previous release Agadez.  The vibes that sneak in during the instantly engaging "Imuhar" pushes that track to the front of the line while the playful organ in "Niamey Jam" also brings a smile.

Not knowing what the lyrics are actually singing about could be an issue for some but Bombino  keeps things vocally very much connected to the guitar lines he plays; singing/chanting melodically throughout. Even though political protest lies at the heart of the bands playing, anyone can connect.

Nomad does at times feel a touch repetitive all over but little things like the cowboy gallop of "Imidiwan" or the hand drums and nervous rising organ of "Zigzan" make things engaging enough to return to.  Auerbach's producers credits need to be hyped as well, Reigning Sound, Doctor John, and now Bombino all while fronting one of the biggest bands in the world is nothing to take lightly. Let's hope everyone involved keeps up the goodness.
We were lucky enough to get introduced to Bombino by our friend Rob a few years ago. We grabbed all of his releases back in 2011 and even caught him live when he played NYC. We compared him to blues artists then and finding out that Dan Auerbach invited the group to record in Nashville is a pretty perfect pairing. This album might not be for everyone, but the sound and playing works for us.  Grab the album here and peep some samples below:

You can also stream the full album for a limited time over at NPR, click here. Below is a clip from a documentary on the band showing them in action live:

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