on 2 June 2005
If you are looking for something robust, soulful and hugely upbeat, try this. The beautiful, haunting, "Africa Remembers" still gives me goose-bumps and I have owned the album for more than 10 years !
Eyes Open starts off with the sound of birdsong on the opener New Afrika, a moving tribute to Stephen Biko, Kwame Nkrumah and Cheikh Anta Diop. This is followed by the lighter tone of Live Television, in which N’Dour delivers his entertaining but offbeat observations in his endearingly peculiar English. That’s just one of five languages on this ambitious album: he also sings in French, Wolof (mostly), Serer and Fulani. Versatility is the name of the game, as he creates a comprehensive definition of African music integrating styles as diverse as rock, reggae, jazz, mbalax, soul, R&B, mbaqanga, merengue, makossa & rap. A mouthful and an earful! Lots of great tracks with catchy hooks make for a stunning diversity: on the moving ballad Hope his voice soars achingly to underpin the tender, positive lyrics, on the urgent, French-only Survie, he laments Africa’s grim economic situation, while the sombre Useless Weapons has a grand piano and stuttering vocals. Eyes Open is a grower, yielding new gems with every listen. It also surpasses his 1989 bestseller, The Lion, in its melodic, stylistic and lyrical scope.
on 22 August 2015
The most brilliant album, with two of my desert island discs on it. Youssou N'Dour's voice is just amazing; he conveys feelings and meaning even if you don't understand Wolof. Some of the tracks are in English and this album has a western audience in mind with fewer Senegalese rhythms than in Immigres, for instance. Part of the depth of this music is to do with the serious subjects that he sings about and I love that he isn't bothered with romance or trivia.