Vieux Farka Touré’s third studio album, The Secret, is a tour through thick textures of rich guitar strumming. While the African influences are easily discernable throughout the 12 tracks, an edgy blues-groove puts this entire project in a category that is somewhere between relaxing and jam-inspiring: I was never sure if I wanted to close my eyes and picture a lush landscape or if I wanted to pick up my guitar and jam.

Taking nothing away from Touré himself – he is of Grammy winning lineage and has held, at one point, the number one spot on the CMJ charts for three weeks with his first album – the jam inspiration is undoubtedly part of the influence his collaborators have had on this project.

Derek Trucks, John Scofield, Dave Matthews and Ali Touré, Vieux’s famous father, all made at least one cameo on the CD and if you’re not familiar with all or some of those names, Derek Trucks was honored by ROLLING STONE as one of the three greatest contemporary guitar players in America; Scofield played with Miles (need I say more?) and Dave Matthews, is, well, Dave Matthews.

The Secret has the air of a meticulously planned album. Layer sits upon layer of guitar, creating this kind of “sound syrup” that oozes its way in and out of the whole thing. That being said, don’t think for a second that this album is 12 similar sounding tracks. Yes, similar influences can be found throughout, but thorough and enlightened song writing is the key here.

Also impressive is the breadth of appeal of the music (in my perception at least). Malians might listen to these tracks around a campfire, and 7,000 miles away hippies might congregate in another type of circular gathering amidst Touré’s masterful twanging.

From start to finish, this album did it for me. It had that intangible love and passion behind it that so, so many albums these days are essentially lacking. The tone will brighten your day, while the passion will inspire you. Not bad for a couple bucks, right?

-Paul Fisher

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