Timbuktu indie kids Songhoy Blues, stars of the Africa Express album
As well as acquainting various African artists to the vagaries of the British rail system, the Africa Express project put out a dazzling record last autumn showcasing the next generation of Malian talent. Called Maison Des Jeunes, the record took its name from the Bamako youth club where it was recorded over the course of a week. Arguably the best track was “Soubour”, cut by a young band by the name of Songhoy Blues who, in the company of Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner, were described by one of the Africa Express party as sounding like “The Smiths crossed with Ali Farka Toure”. Theirs is a gritty, bluesy sound born out of defiance after the conflict that’s scarred Mali in recent years. “We couldn’t let our lives be shipwrecked by the crisis,” guitarist Garba Toure told The Independent, “so we decided to form a band to boost the morale of our fellow refugees.”
In 2015 they released their celebrated debut album Music in Exile, followed by Resistance with an equally political angle in 2017.