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Asa - Asa

Asa, Asa

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

ASA (pronounced Asha) is a new African singer who is determined to make her music “touch people”. “I want to give hope back to my people, but also to speak in their name,” she explains. “I want to show the world that something beautiful and positive can come out of the black continent and inspire young people all over the world.”

She does this by fusing pop, R ‘n’ B, world, funk, soul and reggae into her eponymous debut album, which is sung in both English and Yoruba.

The result is an endearing listen that’s mostly successful in putting Asa onto the musical map. Certainly, the early songs are breezy, upbeat and indicative of a fierce new talent. That it tails off slightly towards the close of its 10 songs is perhaps more to do with it being a debut release, rather than any lack in overall artistic merit.

The album kicks off with the reggae-tinged Jailer, an appealing morality tale that seeks to denounce slavery in all forms. It’s evocative of Bob Marley – easily approachable, yet socially relevant.

360 Degrees is an acoustic, folksy effort that finds Asa’s honey-dued vocals bearing up to favourable comparison with the soothing style of ex-Morcheeba lead Skye, while there’s a dusky Norah Jones quality surrounding Bi Ban Ke, a decent slow-burner.

Fire On The Mountain, meanwhile, is a lively, stripped back lament at the indifference of the modern world to some of its suffering that is almost Jack Johnson-esque. It’s another highlight.

And the scratching and funky percussion on No One Knows offers a nice change of pace, while confirming that you can’t easily pigeon-hole this new singer in any one genre.

Asa grew up in Nigeria listening to an intricately diverse mixture of African music and some of the best known and loved arists from the West. It helped shape her into a truly individual character who determined to fashion music based around the best aspects of African and Western influences – hence, her determination to sing in two tongues.

It also ensures that Asa, the album, is a lively, soothing and occasionally provocative listen that’s well worth seeking out.

Download picks: Jailer, 360 Degrees, Fire on The Mountain, No One Knows, Bi Ban Ke

Track listing:

  1. Jailer
  2. 360
  3. Bibanke
  4. Subway
  5. Fire On The Mountain
  6. Eye Adaba
  7. No One Knows
  8. Awe
  9. Peace
  10. So Beautiful