Youssou N’Dour, The Guide (Wommat)
His first album recorded entirely in Senegal, and also his clumsiest
Or, you know, not. N’Dour’s first album recorded entirely in Senegal is also his clumsiest. His idea of Western taste had fallen disastrously behind — surely no one thought an early Dylan cover (“Chimes of Freedom”), a slick sax solo (Branford Marsalis this time) or a Neneh Cherry duet (the melodramatic “Seven Seconds”) were necessary pop accommodations in 1994, raising the troubling thought that maybe N’Dour genuinely loved this schlock. His voice remained a wonder, and the simplicity of his lyrical conceits could be thrilling, as when he lists various African countries’ dates of independence on “How You Are.” But mostly The Guide (Wommat) showcases world music’s pop ambitions dead-ending.