Joko: from Village to Town

COMPOSERS: Youssou N’Dour
LABELS: Columbia
PERFORMER: Youssou N’Dour (vocals)
CATALOGUE NO: 489718 2

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Another subtly strong, direct voice, YOUSSOU N’DOUR, has met the West’s expectations on shared ground, the better to carry his music from Senegal to an international public.

His first album for several years is proving controversial because it takes the process further. Sting and Peter Gabriel, renewing old collaborations, keep discreetly in the background, whereas Wyclef Jean overwhelms two tracks as he raps away on some ego trip of his own.

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Elsewhere the loops, drones and beats of dance music work their way into the mix, though they never undermine the lilt and rhythm of the singing, nor the melody of several notably beautiful songs. If the outcome is to take Youssou N’Dour’s Africa closer to a mass audience, so much the better.