On "Nomad Soul," Senegalese star Baaba Maal is caught halfway between West African musical traditions and the funk, rap and reggae he has learned to love.
The disc -- akin to an audio travelogue documenting the singer/guitarist's travels from Dakar to Paris and beyond -- opens with a pair of tracks likely to stir interest beyond worldbeat circles. "I Will Follow You (Souka Nayo)" is a punchy, horn-laden piece highlighted by the folksy voices of Sinead O'Connor's backing group, while "Africans Unite (Yiyolela)" is a gospel-tinged duet with reggae luminary Luciano.
Maal spikes rich percussive swirls with effective electronic effects on tracks produced by Simon Emmerson of the Afro Celt Sound System and the impromptu team of Brian Eno, Howie B. and Jon Hassell.
"Nomad Soul" is a stirring, exotic journey out there and back, marked by maelstroms of exotic rhythms as well as passages of quiet contemplation.