Youssou N’Dour, Joko (The Link)

Keith Harris

By Keith Harris

on 09.08.11 in Reviews

Joko: The Link

Youssou N'Dour

Following The Guide, N’Dour set aside his grand crossover ambitions and returned to Dakar. Here, he constructed a state-of-the-art recording complex, Xippi Studios, and recorded the strongest music of his solo career. After a series of Senegal-only releases, he reintroduced himself to a global audience with Joko (The Link).

A return to Dakar brings some of the strongest in his solo career

On the opening track, “Wiri-Wiri,” village noises burble and tamas palpitate before the snap of a drum machine reminds you that this ain’t folk music. “She Doesn’t Need to Fall” and “Miss” are worthy additions to N’Dour’s corpus of feminist compositions; his own charmingly awkward delivery of English lyrics on “My Hope Is in You” works better than Peter Gabriel incanting the title of “This Dream.” Best of all is “Birima,” in which guitars both brittle and bubbling bear the prettiest tune of N’Dour’s career upward into a chorus illuminated by a glorious synthesizer sunrise.