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4 stars for Wutiko | Songlines

Complete review link HERE

Heard on our recent Global Sounds From Québec CD (November 2021, #172), this is Élage’s third album since he moved to Canada a quarter of a century ago. His 2010 debut Aksil won a Juno Award for Best World Music Album and he found a global audience as the featured drummer with Cirque du Soleil. But despite his long exile from Africa, he’s not lost touch with his Wolof roots, and on Wutiko he mixes Youssou N’Dour-style Afro-pop balladry, thundering sabar and tama drumming and traditional call-and-response folk chants with melodic Western pop and soft-rock influences.

Singing mostly in Wolof he has a strong, supple, baritone voice while an array of well-chosen guests lend the album an admirable diversity. They include ace guitarist Ousmane Gangué on the Cheikh Lô-sounding title-track, the soulfully voiced French-Canadian jazz singer Marie-Christine Depestre who duets gloriously on ‘Mouslay’, the rapper Ousmane Traoré on ‘Taar’ and the cello and sultry voice of Jorane on the classical-sounding album closer ‘Bamel’. With the exception of the latter, the mood is mostly upbeat and there’s a warmth and sincerity that makes you wish translations of the lyrics were available.


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