Baaba Maal's first album for the upstart Palm Pictures label, Nomad Soul goes through all of the usual motions for a Maal album, which is at the same time wonderful and frustrating: frustrating given the extraordinary musical wealth of Senegal's traditional forms that is overlooked, but wonderful given the remarkable directions that artists such as Maal have taken with their newer, slicker productions. The basic texture of the album is almost a constant, rarely moving away from a relatively soft vocal track backed by a number of guitars and light percussion. This is music made for the Parisian market in large part, and more broadly the worldbeat market. Soft synths and keyboards exist merrily alongside soft guitars and koras. One exception from the formula on this album is the worthy "Yiriyaro (Percussion Storm)," wherein Maal's vocals are backed by a troupe of sabar players (more or less a Senegalese version of a djembe, with a harsh sound from the use of a stick for playing). Fans of Baaba Maal will probably already know and love this album and, more than likely, newcomers to his sound will be just as pleased with this one as with any other.
Nomad Soul Review
by Adam Greenberg