Senegalese singer/songwriter Youssou N'Dour has created a particularly beautiful and heartwarming set with Nothing's in Vain.

Senegalese singer/songwriter Youssou N'Dour has created a particularly beautiful and heartwarming set with Nothing's in Vain. One of the principal auteurs of the high-energy Mbalax sound, N'Dour operates a bit under that fever pitch on these tunes, though the rhythmic elements of Mbalax remain very much in play here. Every song is translated into English in the liner notes, providing the clue we need regarding the elegance and diversity of his lyrics. There's limited recourse to Western instruments on these tracks. The beating heart of this sound is Senegalese percussion, kora, tama, balafon, and xalam. The best of the best includes the lilting groove of "La Femme est l'avenir de l'amour," N'Dour's very hip cover of "Il n'y a pas d'amour heureux," the graceful, arresting arrangement of "Tan Bi," and the timely, righteous message of "Africa, Dream Again."—PVV

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