Youssou N'Dour's Egypt is a radical change of pace for the Senegalese singer/songwriter. Throughout his career, N'Dour has adapted his indigenous musical heritage to the pop sounds of world music. On Egypt, N'Dour and his quartet have created rhythmic and melodic arrangements for material from the Arabic world. Joining N'Dour's quartet for this recording is the renowned Fathy Salama Orchestra, a 14-piece traditional music ensemble. The material is traditional Sufi music, and N'Dour has applied, via the score's director, Hassan Khaleel, Senegalese rhythms and folk melodies to exist in concert with the time-honored originals. The effect is nothing less than startling. N'Dour goes deep into the heart of Senegalese Sufism, tracing the lines where terrains, spiritual practices, and of course musical ideas meet, meld, and change. Unlike his previous recordings, the organic and sacred character of this music seems to stand outside of time and space; it wails and warbles, croons and groans. It is the music of joy and reverence and, as it bridges the various aspects of Islamic cultural traditions, one hopes it can create, via the sheer beauty of its sound and the translation of its lyrics, a portrait of a world that is far different from the one portrayed by Western media constructs.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek