'Routes' is the most prestigious project US-based Senegalese kora player Diali Cissokho has set up to date. In addition to his regular four-piece band Kaira Ba (Mandinka for "the great peace"), no less than 35 musicians on both sides of the Atlantic collaborated on the album. 'Routes' was recorded between North Carolina, Diali's home base in the United States, and his birthplace M'bour in Senegal, and interweaves the typical Senegalese sounds of the sabar, tama/talking drum, balafon and tambin or Fulbe flute with Western instruments like the Hammond organ, a brass section, pedal-steel guitar and even a string quartet. The result is an excellent album that evokes memories of the early days of Youssou N'Dour and Baaba Maal and continues to fascinate from beginning to end. We had a slight predilection for the songs in which Diali Cissokho & Kaira Bah let the sabar percussion rip in all its glory (opener and kora-classic 'Alla L'a Ke', which you may translate as: "God decides!", 'Badima', Mandinka for "family" and a song Diala wrote after arriving at his birthplace in M'bour and finding his whole family arguing, 'Salsa Xalel', in which Cissokho mixes the rhythm of the mbalax with salsa, or 'Ndoli', a traditional Senegalese children's song about a mythical figure from Mandinka folklore known to tickle children), but more intimate songs like 'Saya', an ode to Diali's late mother MossuKeba Diebate and the unavoidability of death, or 'Xarit', written by Diali's older brother Youssoupha and an ode to friendship, could also absolutely convince. A bit of an odd one out is 'Bayi Leen', a song over a reggae rhythm, in which Cissokho warns against the prejudices many people still hold. Sublime transatlantic African-American cross-over album!