Angélique Kidjo - Djin Djin

2007-07-02 20:43
Roughly translated as “seize the day”, Djin-Djin finds the songbird hiring her all-star line-up to make a point. Her urban jazz tête-à-tête with Alicia Keys and saxophonist Branford Marsalis (“Djin-Djin”), acoustic soul ballad conversation with Peter Gabriel (“Salala”) and a compelling critique of post-colonial identity with Malian husband-and-wife stars Amadou & Mariam Senamou (“C'est l'Amour”) are all subtle, spiritual Afro-pop postcards.

Pity then that classical-pop crooner Josh Groban soils the simplicity by layering Kidjo and Carlos’s third world dialogue during a cover of Sade’s “Pearls” with dollops of sentimental adult contemporary ballad cheese. It’s a minor misfire on an otherwise mesmerising set though. Kidjo gives Brit-soul babe Joss Stone a lesson in real funk on an extreme Afrobeat makeover of the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" and gets jiggy with Ziggy Marley on jamming Diaspora duet “Sedjedo” before transforming Ravel’s “Bolero” into an iridescent vocal hymn (“Lon Lon”). The high profile hook-ups have a pay-off too, with several standout solo selections ranging from contagious Afro-pop fiestas such as “Ae Ae” and sass-soaked Afrobeat dance floor fillers like “Papa” to quietly contemplative pastoral folk ballads like “Emma”.

–Miles Keylock
What happens when a classy African diva like Angélique Kidjo hooks up with a VIP cast including Josh Groban, Alicia Keys, Peter Gabriel, Joss Stone, Carlos Santana, Ziggy Marley and more? Nope, not the watered down, Westernised Afro-pop duets session you might expect.

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