Asa: Asa (Naive)

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Asa: Jailer
Asa: Asa (Naive)

Channeling equal parts Bob Marley, Joan Armatrading, Tracey Chapman and Minnie Riperton would seem quite some feat, but this Paris-born singer-songwriter of Nigerian descent makes it seem effortless.

Mostly singing English (some Yoruban), her subjects are universal injustice tempered with glimpses into the personal (love and lost love . . . and the injustices of those situations). With strings to swell the arrangements in a couple of places this sometimes tips towards the overly sweet, but her soulful voice -- confident, enticing, full of emotion -- is the constant you keep coming back to.

That she also has her political sentiments sometimes hitched to a gentle reggae bounce or soulful shuffle only adds to their appeal.

As far as I can tell this is only her second album (the first to get international release) but already she has earned considerable respect in Europe (she cracked the UK on the strength of her Jools Holland appearance) and has opened for the likes of Snoop Dogg (!) and others in the US r'n'b/hop-hop world.

Sounds like Asa (pronounced Asha) is well on her way -- and here's why.

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James Littlewood - Dec 16, 2008

I'll give this my first nod for best of 08. Why? Cos it's soulful, peaceful and groovy and I think Katie will let me play it while she's looking after the new kiddo.

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