For his first electro-acoustic album, Sidi Touré (vocals, guitar and calabash) is joined by bassist Baba Traoré, drummer Mamadou "Mandou" Kone (who also plays with Vieux Farka Touré), electric guitarist Djadjé Traoré, N'Goni player Ousmane "Papou" Dagnon, and vocalist Babou Diallo. This is a reflection of his performance style of the last three years throughout Mali. Toubalbero is exhilarating trance music overflowing with joy and carried by the energy and groove of the rhythms and the beauty of Sidi's voice.
The album was recorded over the course of four days at Studio Bogolan by Yaya Cissé and produced by Nicolas "Covalesky" Richard. The songs were recorded live to tape in order to capture the energy of the performance. The album was also mixed entirely live by Jason Meagher at Black Dirt Studio (Steve Gunn, Jack Rose). The approach mirrored the live mix of a performance. Much as mixes by the great King Tubby, it retains all the joy and energy of a gig.
The songs are steeped in Malian culture and traditions. "Hendjero Moulaye" (the slippery fish) is a whimsical cautionary tale not unlike the western folksy idiom "don't count your chickens before they've hatched." "BK" is an homage to Baba Belkatras, a legend of Songhai music. "Tchirey" is about the kings of the Holleys, the djinn of thunder. There are also songs of love: "DJiribi Mardjie," and "Handaraïzo" (the small star), and of family: "Hannah" (the vigil for a newborn) and "Sitiali Boubou" (honoring the ancestor). Perhaps the song that captures the spirit of the album most clearly is "Heyyeya," an expression to describe a shout of joy.
Sidi Touré's Toubalbero is an exuberant and irresistible call out for unity and peace for Malians and Africans. Much like the drum that gathers folks in Goa, this album's aim is to unite through joyous expression for the greater good of all. Unity is strength and joy is unstoppable.