Nothing’s in Vain

COMPOSERS: Youssou N’Dour
LABELS: Eastwest/Nonesuch
WORKS: Nothing’s in Vain
PERFORMER: Youssou N’Dour (vocals)
CATALOGUE NO: 7559-79654-2

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Ever one to take a fresh look, YOUSSOU N’DOUR has surrounded his familiar clear, high, honeyed declamation and diversely upbeat rhythms with a feast of traditional plucked strings and ringing wood. In his previous album he went for up-front flirtations with contemporary Western pop.

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Though the traditionalists it dismayed should be happier now, this is still a sophisticated fusion. While the band kicks in during most of these top-notch songs, it uses discreet keyboard rather than crashing guitars and gives the bubbling instrumental counterpoint its head. What results is unusually mellow, through to some nostalgic introductions and the final ‘Africa, Dream Again’ anthem.