Over the past decade or so, Youssou N'Dour's career has expanded along the lines of liberal chums such as Sting and Peter Gabriel, with the African star becoming a sort of global ambassador. The most recent example was his role as the Anglo-African abolitionist Olaudah Equiano in the William Wilberforce biopic Amazing Grace. But N'Dour's musical career has suffered somewhat from the expectations aroused by the hit "7 Seconds".
The opening track here, "4-4-44", is symptomatic of this as he tries to inflate an average song into a pop hit; and many other tracks move away from his usual mbalax grooves in search of a broader audience – most successfully on "Sportif", which has an appealing New Orleans second-line flavour. The album's saviour is Bassekou Kouyaté, the ngoni (African banjo) player, whose frisky contributions are a delight. But a veil should be drawn over the concluding "Wake Up (It's Africa Calling)", an ill-judged, pompous attempt by N'Dour and Neneh Cherry to repeat the success of "7 Seconds".
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