[15 February 2013]
As its title suggests, The Rough Guide to the Music of Senegal provides an introduction to the sounds of the West African nation. This is not an easy task. The country has a reputation for having a rich musical heritage full of world class performers such as Youssou N’Dour, Baaba Maal and Orchestra Baobob. Samples of their works are included here, as well as other somewhat World Music artists like Ismael Lo and Cheikh Lo. The disc also features recent and lesser known talents like Sister Fa and Amadou Diange. However, the most notable aspect of the two-CD set is the inclusion of an entire disc by newcomer Daby Balde. The Fula musican has a distinctly rich voice. He sings with a tranquil urgency, a seemingly oxymoronic way of simultaneously compelling one to relax and pay attention. When he sings “Salaam Alaikum”, he means it as both a wish for peace and an expression of his state of being. His bouncy, flowing melodies are accompanied by fiddle, accordion, and flute backed by kora, acoustic guitar and percussion. This second disc makes the package desirable to those already familiar with the Senegal scene as well as to those who are discovering it for the first time.