YOUSSOU N'DOUR. Eyes Open, Sony/40 Acres And a Mule Musicworks
Now signed to film director Spike Lee's new label, Youssou N'Dour continues to temper his artful confabulation of African sensibility and American funk - demonstrated on such sharp cuts as the "Live Television," "Am Am" and "Yo Le Le."
In a solid collection of international pop gems, one standout is the sassy, funky "Country Boy," which bridges the gap between village Africa and the exploding urban Africa. But the Senegalese world-music master's soaring, incantatory vocals also engage poignant, disarmingly simple melodies, such as the ballad-like piano duet "No More," and the acoustic guitar-accompanied "Useless Weapons."
This wide-eyed effort should also open quite a few ears along the way. MARTA SEBESTYEN. Apocrypha, Hannibal
Vocalist Marta Sebestyen is known to fans of European world music as the lead singer for the folk-revitalizing combo Muzsikas. Apocrypha spotlights Sebestyen's sinuous, serene vocals, set in tasteful arrangements of traditional Hungarian songs. (Yet these folk themes are colored as much by computer-programmed synthesizers as they are by indigenous instruments like the duduk and the tilinka.
Some melodies seem familiar, while others feel otherworldly, with moody soundscapes ebbing and flowing around Sebestyen's gracefully sculpted cadenzas. Listeners fond of the ethereal, genre-crossing harmonies of Les Voix Bulgaires may find a brilliant new voice in Marta Sebestyen.