Youssou N'dour - Nothing's in vain - 03 La femme est l'avenir de l'homme
Type of Spiritual Experience
The Telegraph - Supernatural superstar; Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour has returned to his roots and rediscovered the spirit he lost in Western music - Mark Hudson 12:01AM GMT 12 Dec 2002
His first international release, the grossly over-produced The Lion, made at colossal expense in 1989 when Western majors had hopelessly inflated expectations of African music, put the kibosh on his relationship with Virgin. Joko (2000), with its bland grooves, MOR ballads and plodding cameos from Sting, Gabriel and the Fugees' Wyclef Jean, saw him dumped by Sony despite the success of 7 Seconds, his multi-million-selling duet with Neneh Cherry.
"Even if they don't tell you which songs to play, you're aware that it's their money, and you feel pressure to produce a certain kind of sound. I wouldn't say I was disappointed by Joko, but I wanted to find a new way of working."
His new label, the Warners subsidiary Nonesuch, encouraged him to work from his Dakar studio, and gave him total artistic control. "After Joko, I spent a lot of time at home in Senegal talking with my mother. She is a great singer in our griot [praise-singing] tradition. I discovered that the things she liked in my music were the traditional things - things that come from deep within our culture. That's how I began to move towards this album."
Nothing's in Vain brilliantly marries traditional sounds such as the rasping Peul flute and the riti - a squawking one-string fiddle - with punchy modern arrangements, N'Dour's keening voice delivering all the hooks and big anthemic choruses the mainstream listener could want. His two principal West African rivals, Salif Keita and Baaba Maal, have both also released highly regarded acoustic albums. Is it all part of the same trend?
"The difference with my album is that while we use traditional instruments, the structure of the songs is modern - it's Western! - because we're modern musicians. We wanted to look at our traditions, but we didn't want to throw away everything we've learnt about structuring music."
A description of the experience
La Femme Est L'avenir De L'amour (Women Are The Future Of Love)