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World Music CD Reviews Africa

Youssou N'Dour

By MICHAEL COWAN
Published March 24, 2006

Nothing’s In Vain
Nonesuch

The newest collection from Senegalese superstar Youssou N’Dour doesn’t stray far from his usual mix: traditional instrumentation and ballads mesh with funkier tracks, mixing French and English throughout. Recorded in his native Dakar, Nothing’s In Vain uses the xalam, kora, riti and balafon in non-traditional ways. N’Dour’s voice maintains its consistent beauty, but the songs recall any other of his releases, giving it a pleasant yet non-distinctive feel. A few tracks do stand out, however. “C’est L’amour” is melodic, and the disk’s opening “Tan Bi” offers a haunting quality similar to “Seven Seconds,” his hit of nearly a decade ago. There’s no doubt N’Dour’s well-meaning and concern is global—with titles such as “For Those Displaced,” “Women Are The Future Of Love” and “The Makings Of Respect”—but at times it comes across earnest. Nonetheless, N’Dour’s fans will doubtless enjoy the effort.