The 38-year-old Nigerian singer and guitar wizard Omara Moctar, whose stage name is Bombino, has been called “one of the world’s greatest living blues guitarists” by The New York Times, and “the world’s best guitarist” by Noisey.
On Thursday, Bombino brings his spellbinding sound to Burlington’s Club Metronome in support of his sixth studio album, “Deran.” Released last May, the stellar album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best World Music Album, making Bombino the first Nigerian artist to be nominated for a Grammy.
“Deran” is a follow-up to Bombino’s stunning 2016 album, “Azel,” which was produced by David Longstreth of Brooklyn psych-rock band Dirty Projectors, and his lauded 2013 album, “Nomad,” produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. (Bombino’s 2011 debut album, “Agadez,” was released by the Charlotte, Vermont-based Cumbancha label.)
After making all three albums in the United States, Bombino recorded “Deran” in Africa, marking the first time he had done so since the 2009 compilation “Guitars from Agadez Vol. 2,” the field recordings that introduced him to world music audiences.
“My mission for this album was always to get closer to Africa,” says Bombino, who recorded the album in Casablanca — at a studio owned by the king of Morocco — with his steady longtime band mates: fellow Tuareg Illias Mohammed on guitar and vocals, American Corey Wilhelm on drums and percussion, and Belgium-based Mauritanian Youba Dia on bass.
The 10-track album, his second for Partisan Records, serves up a more raw, spontaneous and unadulterated approach to Bombino’s distinctive “desert blues” sound, which mesmerizes on the strength of his soulful, yet soothing vocals and brilliant, yet delicate guitar work.
The hypnotic opener, “Imajghane,” (“The Tuareg People”) is an anthemic blues-rocker with crystalline guitar licks, while “Tehigren” (“The Trees”) is a lilting standout that continues Bombino’s self-dubbed “Tuareggae” style, a sunny blend of Tuareg blues-rock with reggae one-drop and bounce that he introduced on “Azel.”
“Midiwan” (“My Friends”) is a gorgeously shimmering ditty that “sounds like an acoustic desert campfire singalong,” according to The New York Times. And NPR said the “sumptuous” track “Deran Alkeir” (“Best Wishes”) “spirals around hypnotic polyrhythms, flickering guitar, and a fugue of call-and-response chants that shimmer like mirages.”
“Fluid and bluesy, his guitar playing is more than just an agile dance between rhythm and melody,” said NPR of the album, calling it a “back-to-roots affair.” “It speaks and breathes across centuries.”
“North African desert blues … has become arguably the most successful world music genre to break through since reggae, and few have wielded the guitar with such mastery and majesty as Bombino,” said The New York Times, dubbing Bombino “The Sultan of Shred.”
“His spellbinding virtuosity and urgently dynamic live shows have made fans of fellow musicians from Keith Richards and Robert Plant to Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) and Win Butler (Arcade Fire), and built him a following that’s crossed over from the world music community to the jam-band circuit.
“His music has a timeless quality,” added the Times, “borrowing from Tuareg traditionals and infusing them with an infectious exuberance and considerable improvisation.”
Opening the show is Dead Messengers, a soulful Boston-based psych-rock group performing in advance of its debut album, which will feature guests from such bands as Lucius, Bombino, Aubrey Haddard and Turkuaz.