The sterling Black Ivory Soul is Kidjo's seventh full-length set and first for Columbia.

The sterling Black Ivory Soul is Kidjo's seventh full-length set and first for Columbia. Lovingly produced by Bill Laswell, the soulful set finds Kidjo merging the traditional music of her Benin homeland with the rhythms of Brazil. Assisting the artist in creating the just-right vibe are top-notch African and Brazilian musicians, including guitarists Romero Lubambo and Vinicius Cantuaria, six-stringers Joao Mota and Dominic Kanza, and percussionist Carlinhos Brown, among others. Dave Matthews duets with the artist on the uplifting and empowering "Iwoya," home to a beautiful hook: "You don't have to be old to be wise/A bird doesn't wait till he dies to fly." Other highlights include the ebullient "Bahia," the dancefloor-ready "Tumba," and the potent "Ominira" ("freedom" in Yoruba). On "Ces Petits Riens" and "Refavela," Kidjo deftly tackles songs made famous by, respectively, Serge Gainsbourg and Gilberto Gil.—MP