When there’s SO much world music around, what’s a listener/music addict to do? Especially with the price of CDs: domestic releases are high, but OY! Those imports! So one must pick and choose, seek the domestic anthologies and compilations of stuff you’re curious about and/or just get lucky sometimes. Take this fellow from Gambia, Ismaila Oussou Nije. Never heard o’ this guy before I got this platter, but if this anthology is any indication, Baaba Maal and Salif Keita are in for some serious competition. Like a lot of West African music, there are strong Latin (especially Cuban) overtones to this music, and like much African pop there’s a reliance on synthesizers (often cheesy ones at that, but kinda charming all the same) for coloring and to beef up the ensemble and effervescing guitars that can sound like big electric kalimbas. But what separates/elevates Oussou Nije from the rest of the pack are the lissome, perky and seemingly capricious arrangements. Just when you think you’re sure how the tune is gonna play out, then ZAP he throws you a curve. Like the use of acoustic piano and orchestral-sounding Western pop elements, like the sideway chords of "Angel Of The Morning" on "Dauda Sarge." "Bada Toure" can only be described (style-wise) as country-reggae-soul. Oussou Nije has a pleasantly sweet raspy voice reminiscent of the late R&B singer Arthur Alexander. Moreover, he doesn’t over-indulge in the vocal melisma acrobatics - his approach is refreshingly just-plain-folks. Up there with Habib Koite’s Baro (Putamayo), Best Of Faateleku is among the finest modern African pop discs to be released this year.