For "Miri" ("dream" or "contemplation" in Bambara), an album on which the ngoni master tackles powerful sentiments like love, friendship and family values, Bassekou Kouyate returned to Garama, his native village situated on the banks of the Niger River, midway between the capital Bamako and Segou. 'Miri' is probably Bassekou's most personal album to date. Take closing track 'Yakare' for example, which is about his recently departed mother who was the mainstay of the family: "When your mother dies it is like someone tears out the door of your house.", and in 'Deli' Bassekou talks about true friendship, because: "Too many people today sacrifice friendship for money!". One of the most striking tracks on 'Miri' is 'Wele Ni', the story of a king in Segou koro (the old Segou, the former seat of the Bambara empire), who thought he was so powerful and important he no longer thought it necessary to treat his subjects with the necessary respect, but soon realized that without his people he was nothing. With this song, Bassekou draws a parallel with the current division in Malian society. In 'Wele Ni' Kouyate plays his ngoni with a bottleneck, producing a sound similar to that of the American slide guitar, and the voice of Abdoulayee Diabate can also be heard. Diabate, with whom Bassekou was still played in a band when he was still living in Segou, is only one of several vocal and musical guests on 'Miri'. Habib Koite, who appears in 'Kanto Kelena', a song about a man who is abandoned by his wife, is also an old band mate, as they were both members of kora master Toumani Diabate's Symmetric Orchestra. 'Tabital Puulaku' was already the title of Afel Bocoum's 2009 album, and on 'Miri' he repeats his call for peace between the Fulbe and the other Malian tribes. Finally there's Bassekou's niece Kankou Kouyate, considered an emerging Malian talent, who provided backing vocals for the album. But Kouyate also invited a lot of international guests... As the title suggests, Bassekou goes Cuban in 'Wele Cuba', and does so in the company of rapper Yasel Gonzalez Rivera, half of hip-hop/reggaeton duo Madera Limpia. Other guests are the Moroccan guembri-player Majid Bekkas (opener 'Kanougnon'), Snarky Puppy and Bokanté bassist Michael League (here playing guitar in 'Konya'), American violinist Casey Driessen ('Nyame') and Carolina Chocolate Drops multi-instrumentalist Dom Flemons who plays bones in 'Fanga'. In closing we'd like to mention that Bassekou dedicated 'Miri' to two Malian musical legends: soku virtuoso Zoumana Tereta and golden voice Kassé Madi Diabaté, the first passing away in 2017 and the latter a year later. As if it has become the most normal thing in the world, Bassekou Kouyate adds another contemporary Malian classic to his already impressive discography!