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Idrissa Diop, Yakar (Tinder)
I have no doubts that percussionist/vocalist Idrissa Diop and his many piece band put on an electric and eclectic show, and I'm sure I would be entertained and made to move. The dynamic horn arrangements, the layers of percussion, a couple of violins paired with a wailing guitar, the I-Three like harmonies of the backup singers et al. present on this album I'm sure would shine through. So why is it that the obvious talent that I imagine would be displayed on stage have such a hard time representing on Yakar? Should we blame it on the slick production? The average mix? The disparate musical styles? I'm not sure, but it lacks the oomph that I would expect to hear from such a large ensemble of talented musicians coming out of one of the most musical countries in the world, Senegal. Singing in Wolof, Mr. Diop's voice approaches more of a salsero's bark, rather than a praise singer's exalted lilt, which works just fine when the band is doing ! the latin thing. Throughout the album the band throws out a little bit of funk, rock, salsa, and reggae. And though the results aren't stellar, neither are they boring. Particulary if you like your violins real, not synthesized. Diop has opened for Santana and performed with Youssou N'Dour. Here's hoping a live album release soon does this Senegalese veteran justice.