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Bombino's 'Deran' Will Add To Tuareg Musician's Global Acclaim

(SOUNDBITE OF BOMBINO SONG, "OULHIN")

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

That's the sound of Bombino, a singer and guitarist from Niger. Bombino is one of the most popular and in-demand African musicians around today. Music critic Banning Eyre says his sixth album, "Deran," will likely add to his global acclaim.

BANNING EYRE, BYLINE: Bombino's stature is the product of hard work, a few good breaks and outsized talent as a guitarist, singer and songwriter. He's a Tuareg, a nomadic people from the Sahara Desert who move between five countries. But the music plays, basically Tuareg rock 'n' roll, has been finding a home in rock and blues festivals all around the world.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OULHIN")

BOMBINO: (Singing in Tamasheq).

EYRE: Bombino is a deeply engaged ambassador for his people. The Tuareg has suffered through droughts, displacements, discrimination and warfare going back at least six decades. That's when the modern nations of North and West Africa were formed, leaving little place for the hardy, fiercely independent Tuareg. Bombino, now in his mid-30s, has lived this struggle, twice forced into exile due to conflicts in Niger.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IMAJGHANE")

BOMBINO: (Singing in Tamasheq).

EYRE: A lumbering lope of traditional folk and the raw bravado of rock 'n' roll merge easily in Bombino's hands. And he sings with personal charisma that sets him apart from other popular desert rock bands, where the emphasis is often on a collective sound.

(SOUNDBITE OF BOMBINO SONG, "TEHIGREN")

EYRE: "Deran" comes on the heels of Bombino albums produced by rock stars from The Black Keys and Dirty Projectors. This is a back-to-roots effort mostly recorded in Casablanca, but there's no mistaking all Bombino has learned about the fine points of electric guitar aesthetics, muscular grooves and intriguingly varied song arrangements.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TEHIGREN")

BOMBINO: (Singing in Tamasheq).

EYRE: Bombino's take-no-prisoners guitar style can rival that of any blues rock shredder, but there's so much more in this music - sweetness and warmth, sadness, joy, also wisdom and defiance. On the album's final track, Bombino prays for the revolution to succeed. But we know from what's gone before that he's looking for a revolution that brings peace to his troubled home and also to the world.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ADOUAGH CHEGREN")

BOMBINO: (Singing in Tamasheq). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.