With his sophomore release, Vieux Farka Touré steps out of the shadow of his late, illustrious father. He's not only developed into a convincing songwriter and singer (but one who happily concedes the microphone to other talents, like Afel Bocoum, who sings on three tracks here), but a stunning guitarist, as well. You can hear traces of his father in his work, but the style is very much his own, flowing and free, rippling almost like a kora, but also throwing in lovely, darting runs, as on "Aï Haïra," where the fills -- not to mention the solo -- are delicious, powered along by talking drum. It's all ineffably West African, and he's not afraid to play, as most of the tracks top the four-minute mark, leaving lots of room for him to display his fretboard talent. Of course, there are a number of bluesy touches, notably "Souba Souba," which simmers as guitar and ngoni work together. "Slow Jam" lives up to its name perfectly, while the closing reprise of "Fafa" gives a soft acoustic end to the electric opening cut. The use of a drum kit can often bring added urgency to the music, which it does on "Sarama," which is nothing less than primal rock & roll, although Touré is quite capable of stepping away from all that for an acoustic, hold-your-breath duet with the wonderful Toumani Diabaté for "Paradise," where guitar and kora play simply around a gorgeous melody. With Fondo, Touré has created a mature, exciting, and jubilant album, and shows himself already a master.