Q - 5/97, p.142
"...N'Dour's vocal style imparts considerable passion, effortlessly crossing linguistic barriers....as exotic as a rainforest storm."
The Super Etoile: Youssou N'Dour, Neneh Cherry (vocals); M'Backe Diou (rap vocals); Pape Oumar Ngom, Mamadou "Jimi" Mbaye (guitar); Sacha Skarbek (violin, keyboards); Bolo Bolognesi (accordion, trombone); Thierno Koite (soprano & alto saxophones); Issa Cissokho (tenor saxophone); Branford Marsalis, Brad Wheeler (saxophone); Ron Meza (trumpet); Glenn Ferris (trombone); Habib Faye (keyboards, bass); Jean Phillipe Rykiel (keyboards, drum programming); Ibrahima Cisse (keyboards); Fallilou "Gallas" Niang (drums); Assane Thiam (talking drum); Babacar "Mbaye Dieye" Faye (percussion, background vocals); Mark Roberts, Sing-Sing Rythms (percussion); Soriba Kouyate (kora); Ousseynou Ndiaye, Everybody's Choir, Lokua Kanza, Julia Sarr, Viviane Chudid (background vocals).
Producers: Booga Bear, Jonny $, Youssou N'Dour.
Engineers: Booga Bear, Jonny $, Phillipe Brun.
Recorded at Xippi Studio, Dakar, Senegal and Power Play Studios, New York.
THE GUIDE (WOMMAT) was nominated for Best World Music Album in the 37th Annual Grammy Awards.
The music of Senegal native Youssou N'Dour takes a step forward both stylistically and lyrically on THE GUIDE (WOMMAT). A key mover in the field of global fusion music, N'Dour draws heavily on traditional African melodies and rhythms, but blends these elements with French pop, Caribbean influence, and various American styles including jazz, soul, and rock. On THE GUIDE, the blend is very smooth and well articulated, an effect achieved, in large part, by the album's synth-driven, high-end production.
However, it is N'Dour's songwriting that really impresses here. Among the shimmering guitars, bobbing bass, talking drums, and bright keyboards, N'Dour's beautiful tenor spins stories in Wolof, English, and French. Many of the songs contain a narrative with an allegorical overtone, and N'Dour utilizes imagery in a way that suggests the influence of Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel (artists with whom he has worked), and Bob Dylan (whose "Chimes of Freedom" N'Dour covers here). The record also features the singer's moody, trip-hop duet with pop star Neneh Cherry, "7 Seconds," which received attention on commercial radio and MTV. One of the artist's most focused releases, THE GUIDE confirms N'Dour's status as a world-music superstar.