Angélique Kidjo jump-starts the Air Canada Centre on Monday (March 5). Rating: NNNN
Angélique Kidjo's latest album may seem transparent in its attempt to bring the spirited Benin-born singer a wider audience by front-loading high-profile guest cameos (Alicia Keys, Branford Marsalis, Joss Stone, Peter Gabriel, Amadou and Mariam, Josh Groban, Carlos Santana and Ziggy Marley) onto the first half. But it's impressive how seamlessly everyone fits into Djin Djin's pan-African world, conforming to Kidjo's celebratory sound. Alicia Keys on the title track is a particularly perfect fit. Cohesive as both parts are, I prefer the less restrained, funkier second act, in which Kidjo, solo, sounds like she's started the real party once all her guests have bounced.