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Tinariwen’s ‘Emaar’ is rich, modern blues with chanting soul

Album review: Tinariwen’s ‘Emaar’

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Tinariwen
Emmaar
Anti Records

★★★★ (out of 5 stars)

The blues seems inextricably tied to the American South. But hearing them rise from the physically and culturally formidable Saharan sands feels extraordinarily natural with its own hypnotic, penetrating terroir. At least it does coming from the hands of the most hot-buzzing desert blues band going. Following up on the slingshot of their 2012 Grammy-winning smash (Tassili), the celebrated Tuareg group issues an even more forceful collection that propels their chanting soul with more rock vigor and presents their alluring rhythms with more dusty stomp. Standouts include the blues curls of “Toumast Tincha,” the ritualistic slow burn of “Imidiwan Ahi Sigdim,” the trance drone of “Tahalamot,” the astral dream of “Emajer” and, especially, the hexing gallop of “Chaghaybou.” With Emmaar, Tinariwen takes a native voice that feels millennia old but renders it with deep, judicious atmosphere and rich modern resonance.

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