Album Review: Youssou N'Dour, 'Rokku Mi Rokka'

Youssou N'Dour
Rokku Mi Rokka
(Nonesuch)

On his new disc, veteran Senegalese singer-songwriter Youssou N'Dour continues to contemplate issues of freedom and religious bliss over a musical template blending African and Western pop. Among Rokku Mi Rokka's highlights is "4-44-44," which celebrates the joys of everyday life, and such gifts of nature as the Sun and the air we breathe. The lyrics also pay tribute to those who fought for the independence of their lands. A brass section enriches the African percussive instruments, giving the tune an extra-funky vibe. Fans of N'Dour's 1994 hit with Neneh Cherry, "7 Seconds," will appreciate "Wake Up, It's Africa Calling," a hip-hop-inspired track that features Cherry in a duet. Listen also to "Pullo Àrdo," a beautiful ballad that speaks of a shepherd who shares his years of wisdom "with all those who come his way."

On Rokku Mi Rokka, N'Dour shows that he has lost neither charm nor youthful energy. The rhythmically rich music works like a frame around his high-pitched voice, and the music is able to captivate even the most jaded listener, world music fan or otherwise. -- Ernest Barteldes



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