Youssou N’Dour ‘I Bring What I Love’ (Nonesuch) 4/5

Released to tie in with a DVD documentary of Youssou N’Dour’s career which was part of the tour made around the time of the ‘Egypt’ album, this compilation provides a useful overview of his musical voyage thus far and highlights his strengths and on occasions weaknesses too. The former largely outweight the latter here with a timely choice of ‘Immigrés’, a classic African tale and never more relevant than in the present with stabbing brass reminding us of the earlier period in Youssou’s career. A glorious song. The mid-tempo shuffler that is ‘Birima’ is barely less enticing with lovely guitar work while percussion heavy staccato mbalax rhythms abound on ‘Atou réér na’. From more recent times and the acclaimed album devoted to Egyptian music, comes the kora driven piece ‘Yama’ which, similar to another song ‘Yaakaar (’Hope’), displays the more sensitive side to N’Dour’s repertoire. One criticism voiced of his music has been that on occasions it can be a tad over-produced and the layered production of ‘Xel (’Think’)’ is a case in point. However, one could counter this by putting forward ‘Lima weesi (’As in a mirror’)’ as very subtly fusing acoustic and synthesizers in a creative manner and doing so in an intimate setting. For long-time fans two new songs will be of interest and they include the title track and ‘Yonnent’ (’The messenger’). Meanwhile N’Dour’s explorations into new territory promise further opportunities for expanision with an album already available in France devoted to the music of Jamaica.

Tim Stenhouse