Angélique Kidjo

Out of Africa

Listening to Angélique Kidjo's forthcoming album, Dijn Dijn(Razor & Tie), is like attending a crash course in World Music 101. Her 11th full-length, scheduled for a May 1 release, is filled with familiar Western classical-inspired formulas — poppy hooks, radio-friendly durations, and a star-studded list of guest musicians from Alicia Keys and Joss Stone to Peter Gabriel and Ziggy Marley — and furnishes a perfect intro for skittish fans thirsting to delve into the intimidating world of (gasp!) music sung in a foreign tongue. The Benin-born and Paris-based singer/songwriter chooses a supple blend of English, French, Yoruba, and the Niger-Congo specific Fon to sing songs about personal victories and heartache, all backed by groove-oriented Afro-pop beats and jazzy arrangements. And though the commercial approach may turn off followers of more "African-sounding" artists like Salif Keita or the late Fela Kuti, Kidjo can still teach listeners a thing or two with an authentically soulful and easily digestible sound.

 
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