Ismaël Lô


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Ismaël Lô has long been thought of as Africa's Bob Dylan, since he performs with guitar and harmonica. But it's a comparison that doesn't work for Senegal, which is a lushly arranged look at his own country. The subjects of his songs -- racism, poverty, famine, and a ferryboat disaster that's commemorated on "Le Jola" -- might be hard-hitting, but they're couched in lulling Afro-pop that seems to take any sting out of the words. Even when the album goes up-tempo it never loses control. What's missing, really, is a sense of passion and fire in the music. It's eminently listenable, and 's a gorgeous singer and tunesmith. But a starker backdrop might serve him better, as many of the tunes seem to blend into one, homogenous whole.

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