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Julia Sarr and Patrice Larose: Set Luna

If you need proof that friction leads to flame, look no further than the blazing union of Senegalese-French mezzo-soprano Julia Starr and flamenco-inspired guitarist Patrice Larose. Working backward along the path followed by most emerging artists, Sarr and Larose made one of their earliest combined appearances at Carnegie Hall, as a cornerstone of Youssou N’Dour’s October 2005 celebration of “The Fresh Face of African Music.” Now Starr, performing in her native Wolof, and Larose have made their individual and shared recording debut with an album that replicates the raw, uninhibited energy of their live shows.

The ability of each to fire the other’s imagination (as cowriters and intertwined musical forces) is laid bare in a dozen different ways, from the warm, familial embrace of “Nimala Djuré” and simmering romantic anticipation of “Yow Laï Xar” to the sanity-testing blast of “Yobuma.” But their shared heat reaches maximum intensity when fueled by N’Dour as he lends his voice to the deeply introspective title track. The lyric talks of the invisibility that ensues when one moves from the familiar to the foreign-a heartfelt yet ironic sentiment for such skilled musical cross-culturists.

Originally Published