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While her countryman Youssou N’Dour has been busy trying to reach Western audiences by singing in English and adding art-rock trappings and R&B rhythms to his mbalax-based sound, Senegal’s Kine Lam has refrained from such world-beat strategies. She has instead used N’Dour’s studio and his musical arranger to record a more orthodox Senegalese pop album, sung nearly entirely in Wolof and emphasizing pure mbalax rhythms and melodies. A midtempo, ballad-oriented genre identifiable by its guttural, Middle Eastern–influenced vocalizing and complex polyrhythmic percussion, modern mbalax also makes use of traditional West African high-pitched electric guitar chording and Cuban-derived horn blowing. Lam, who is her nation’s most popular female vocalist and has released eight albums overseas since 1989, comes from a griot family; thus, many of her lyrics reflect her lineage’s customary duty to articulate tributes to historical leaders. This hereditary responsibility does not, however, prevent Lam from also composing social commentaries such as “Sey (Home),” which calls for equal rights for women. Although such sentiments are distinguishable to non-Wolof speakers only through translation in the liner notes, the language barrier does not prevent one from being wowed by Lam’s N’Dour-inspired vocals. At certain points within Praise’s seven songs, her low-pitched wail suddenly takes flight, soaring beautifully up the scale. Lam’s acrobatic bellow and her well-rehearsed musicians’ combination of nearly jazzlike drumming and strumming (with brass flourishes) may not achieve either the transcendent heights or disillusioning lows attained by N’Dour’s more risky approach, but they do deliver the classic strengths of Senegalese musicmaking.—Steve Kiviat