Les Nubians Princesses Nubiennes

This French-African duo of sisters Helene and Celia Faussart are philosophically womanist, Afrocentric and urban. However, it's their passion for vocal expression that allows all of these elements to become cohesive, interactive and soulful on their debut album. The Faussart's sing with sweetness and pride, delivering a worldview of music that is rootsy like Zap Mama, and funky like Soul II Soul. Thus, the experience of each track on Princesses Nubiennes is like a non-linear excursion through the encyclopaedia of African diasporic music. The duo touches on jazz, R&B, jungle, hip-hop and consciously embrace different traditional melodies inherited from the Motherland. At times, their arrangements are unbearably sentimental — the grand piano intros on "Si Je T'Avais Ecoute" and "Les Portes Du Sovenir" may induce nausea with repeated listening — but for the most part, Les Nubians drop it hard. "Embrasse-Moi" and "Sourire" mark a reunion of break-beats with West African sensibility, while "Makeda" and "Demain" simply get the head nodding and singing. With the exception of "Sugarcane," the album is sung entirely French, but that shouldn't stop the sisters from breaking the language barrier. Check their lively cover of Sade's "Sweetest Taboo" for further proof. (Virgin)