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More than just simply “Afro-Cuban,” Angelique Kidjo explores an astonishing range of music with impressive eloquence. The cross-pollination of calypso, merengue, samba and African pop needs a couple handfuls of hyphens to form the right musical description, yet yields an intense naturalness. The Latin tres guitar flourishes next to the bouncy African electric guitar and Cuban horn section on “Seyin Djro.” The graceful kora (harp from West Africa) seems to thrive on the rambunctious drums of “Conga Habanera.”

Kidjo has mixed and matched before, but these 13 new tunes exceed her past work in both energy and vision. Singing in the Benin dialects of Yoruban and Fon, as well as French and English, her vocals are equally inspired. On the sad yet seductive “Bala Bala” or the delicate “N’Yin Wan Nou We,” she sings with the depth of such divas as Miriam Makeba and Cesaria Evora. “Oyaya!” means “joy” in her native Yoruban, and it’s a word that perfectly sums up this album.

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