Hand it to Tinariwen. Like the nomads they are, they don't stand still musically. On their third album (the title translates as Water Is Life), they keep the root intact, the desert blues still at the heart of all they do, but this builds upon what they achieved on their superb sophomore disc, happily restless and unafraid of walking down new paths. However, although they're rightly lauded for their widescreen blues sound, what emerges most here is something they hinted at on the last record -- they're a remarkable rock & roll band, too. The guitars, locked together in rhythm and lead, create a glorious syncopated noise that puts most rockers to shame. But there's a wonderful looseness to the sound (kudos to producer Justin Adams), in part due to the fact that these tracks were all recorded over just two weeks, a tiny time frame by today's standards. Recorded in the Malian capital of Bamako, these songs arrive with dust on their boots and a little thirsty. The studio touches are subtle, a little on the effects here and there, but never detract from the music -- which even features old member Mohammed Ag Itlale, whose voice and guitar can be heard on several tracks.
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AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson