COMPOSERS: Youssou N’Dour
ALBUM TITLE: Youssou N’Dour
WORKS: Rokku Mi Rokka (Give and Take)
PERFORMER: Youssou N’Dour (vocals, composition)
CATALOGUE NO: 7559799745
After his intense return to Sufi roots in Egypt, you might almost say that Youssou N’Dour’s next album was a relaxation if it were not so finely crafted. The theme this time is the music of Northern Senegal, but seen through the lens of its creator’s vast musical experience. As the title implies, the music gives its portion of Africa to the world and takes back in return some more contemporary and specifically transatlantic strands.
The experience is both joyous and searching. ‘Baay Faal’ goes with a reggae-style deep bass and swaying pulse, but the melodic basis is an elaborate ritornello in octaves that sounds anything but Caribbean. Elsewhere N’Dour’s old band, the Super Etoile, delivers lightly worn layers of counterpoint, Neneh Cherry raps and freewheels through ‘Wake Up’ – also released as a single – and the N’Dour voice maintains its spot-on intonation and easy movement.Robert Maycock