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May 23, 2024

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Youssou N'Dour
Nothing's In Vain (Nonesuch)

By: Glenn BurnSilver

Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour, one of West Africa's leading voices, returns with fresh album of stunning music that merges the traditional rhythms of his homeland with a voice, smooth as silk and as captivating as the continent from which he hails. The album showcases time-honored Senegalese instruments, such as the xalam, kora, riti and balafon in more westernized arrangements with electric guitar and bass. Some songs border on western club tracks while others, such as "Il N'y A Pas D'amour Heureux" ("Women Are The Future Of Love"), carries the listener to a sleepy caf? hidden among the vineyards of old France. Yet, the core instrumentation remains clearly West African. It is this interplay that N'dour expertly manipulates to great affect. His music bounces and sways to a concise undercurrent of pulsing rhythm, like an adrenalinized heartbeat, that shapes each song into a flowing, catchy number. "C'est L'amour" ("It's Love") mixes xalam, tama and balafon with electric guitar, innovative percussion and silky female back up vocals for a hypnotic mellow groove. Throughout the album the varied rhythms carry the listener along to discover that new world and musical appreciation held dormant inside, but waiting for release.. With N'dour, it escapes easily, whirling around the room, before collapsing in a heap of laughter and joy. I'll give it an A.
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