African singer Youssou N'Dour is big among pop stars who care about global warming and such things. He's famously recorded with Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, and Sting during his 20-year career. N'Dour's latest album heads to the desert for inspiration, incorporating acoustic guitars, shuffling percussion, and lots of wide-open spaces. His last CD, 2004's Egypt, was a spiritual journey every bit as reverent as you'd expect out of a religious pilgrimage. Rokku Mi Rokka is more of a planet party record, with hints of blues, reggae, and folk music trickling into the festive grooves. The translated lyrics cover everything from mortality ("Time has come to weigh our sins and good deeds") to the mundane ("You're happy that your favorite wrestler has prevailed" goes a line in "Sportif" [Sportsman]). Through it all, N'Dour's heavenly voice brings this worldly celebration to deeply human levels.
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