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12 mai 2007

Political messages embedded in new CD

Born in Quidah a coastal city of West Africa, Angelique Kidjo has made a name for herself worldwide. She has an innovative style of fusing the elements of jazz, gospel, reggae, samba, salsa and electronica without abandoning the traditional music of her homeland.

While she may have pushed traditional beyond its limits at times, her latest offering has her returning to her roots with the help of a star-studded guest list. Best translated as “seize the day” Djin Djin is sure to please all her devote fans. Kidjo’s rendition of the Stones Give Me Shelter is a tasty one featuring Joss Stone who lights it up vocally.

But it is track four, Salala, featuring Peter Gabriel that really caught my attention. I’ve had a serious hunger for a little PG, so this little teaser hit the spot with his typical haunting style. Next up is the delightful Senamou featuring her good friends Amadou and Mariam known in their homeland of West Africa for their Afro-pop offerings.

Track six is a heart wrenching remake of Sade’s Pearls featuring Carlos Santana’s trademark guitar in addition to Kidjo teaming up with Josh Groban to make this unpredictable merger of epic beauty another of the Djin Djin’s vocal highlights.

This is followed by a lighthearted splash of Jamaican style with Ziggy Marley sounding oh so Bob for Sedjedo. Track 13 ends the album on a classical note with a stunning vocal rendition of Ravel’s Bolero.

After a few listens, though, the album’s somewhat political theme of economic oppression becomes obvious. This is not an album that can be taken at face value, Kidjo’s insightful liner notes spell out the inspiration behind the selection of these songs that make this an album that delves much deeper than you first think. The only thing missing here is Paul Simon.

Still, Djin Djin is the perfect backdrop for a classy summer dinning event be it a barbeque or an ethnic dinner party.

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