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Music Review: Asa – Asa

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The year 2008 was all about Adele. This year, however, it’s all about Asa (pronounced AH-SHA, which means ‘little hawk’), a super-talented Nigerian singer-songwriter and acoustic guitarist. She is getting major buzz in world music for her astonishing self-titled debut album, which delivers a dreamy mix of vintage soul, Afro-pop and rhythm and blues, with traces of jazz, folk, funk and reggae.

The 11-track album is a stellar first outing from the 26-year-old; each song is executed with verve and the deepest commitment to interpretations of the music to deftly connect heart, mind, and soul. Think Lauryn Hill in the Motherland.

Asa weaves her way through songs of hope, defiance, life, and wonder, sometimes in English and sometimes in Yoruba, her native tongue. She has a captivating singing voice and the listener is swept along by her passionate and joyful delivery. You’ll find yourself grooving to tracks like “Subway”, “Eye Adaba”, and “No One Knows Tomorrow”, and completely mesmerized by how her styling on acoustic guitar steals the spotlight on “Awe” and “So Beautiful”.

But the real highlights include the thought-provoking first single “Jailer” (‘Stop calling me a prisoner/Let he who is without sin be the first to cast a stone/Mr. Jailer Man’); and “360o”, another haunting track, which addresses human relationships and the global status quo, and wouldn’t be out of place on an album from India, Arie, or Corinne Bailey Rae.

Equally memorable are “Fire On The Mountain”, a sparely produced hymn to life; the immaculate and repeat-worthy “Bi Banke”; and the caressing ballad “Peace”, which also speaks to matters of the heart and society.

Penned primarily be the singer (born in Paris as Bukola Elemide), the album is ideal for lazy Sunday afternoons. What’s more, like Hill, Arie, Bailey Rae, Duffy, and Chrisette Michele, Asa’s soothing sounds are like comfort food for the soul in these unsettling times.

DOWNLOAD: “Jailer”, “360o”, “Bi Banke” and “Peace”

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