After a period spent enchanting Western audiences and employing Western producers and studios, Tuareg guitar master Bombino (given name, Omara Moctar) touches back down in Africa for his energetic sixth LP Deran. Championed by fans and fellow musicians across the globe for his glowing amalgam of desert blues and Hendrix– and Knopfler-inspired classic rock, the Niger native has enjoyed an impressive run since breaking through with his 2011 album Agadez. Extensive North American tours, U.S. festival appearances, collaborations with members of the Rolling Stones, and two acclaimed albums produced by Americans Dan Auerbach (the Black Keys) and Dave Longstreth(the Dirty Projectors) cemented his reputation as an artistic ambassador of the Tamasheq language and the geopolitical conflicts of his native land.
With Deran, Bombino largely leaves the West to its own concerns, heading instead to a Moroccan studio in Casablanca to record under the lighter touch of his manager, Eric Herman. The resulting ten-song set comes across as more open, honest, and generally unfiltered than either of his previous two outings. While the struggles of the Tuareg people are addressed on tracks like the hard-edged reggae rock of “Tehigren” and the meditative acoustic-led “Adouni Dagh,” the overall tone of Deran is more optimistic and celebratory. Spry opener “Imajghane” sings the praises of Tuareg resilience while the vibrant “Tamasheq” is a literal love letter to the beauty of his native language. The album’s title itself translates to “best wishes,” a sentiment delivered to a groom on the deeply percussive “Deran Deran Alkheir.” As an addition to Bombino‘s already sterling catalog, Deran is another excellent release and a natural continuation of his distinctive style.