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Vinyl | LP (12" album, 33 rpm)
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Vinyl, August 30, 2011
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Nigerian songstress Asa presents her soulful and uplifting sophomore album, Beautiful Imperfection. Building upon the tremendous international success of her 2007 self-titled debut, Asa expands both her emotional and stylistic range on her follow-up.
From the opening track, 'Why Can't We,' it is apparent that Asa is exploring new territory with this collection of songs. While being anchored in the same timeless and heartfelt spirit of her debut, she has also grown as an artist and taken the next logical step in her evolution as a singer and songwriter. Asa first caught the ears of her global audience with her smoky voice and confident political messages, which were wrapped in deceptively sweet melodies and laid-back acoustic guitar strumming. On Beautiful Imperfection she has shifted her goal towards creating more joyous, uplifting music, while weaving together 60's soul, pop, reggae, rock, and more. Tracks like 'Be My Man' have a playful, up-tempo feel while others, such as closing track 'Questions,' are gorgeous, haunting ballads.
Asa's second LP delivers intelligent, funked-up soul-pop... A voice that mixes Macy Gray huskiness with Nina Simone passion --Mojo
Powerful vocals that channel Amy Winehouse at her peak. . . Soulful lyrics that recall Bob Marley and Marvin Gaye. . . Like anything well-travelled, Beautiful Imperfection draws inspiration from everywhere --Teen Vogue, September 2011
Released in the United Kingdom last April, this Paris-born Nigerian soul singer's new album is, true to its title, a thing of beauty - a socially conscious, rhythmically sophisticated record inspired by, but not overly indebted to, torchbearers such as Bob Marley, Fela Kuti and Lauryn Hill.
'Be My Man,' the first single from 'Beautiful Imperfection,' is buoyed by a tricked-up neo-Motown arrangement akin to those heard on recent recordings by Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse. 'Why Can't We' is impelled by a hiccuping ska backbeat, but 'Broda Ole,' one of three songs sung in Yoruba, is even catchier, thanks to its galloping rhythms and unstoppable chorus. Here again, Lily Allen or Diana Ross, for that matter would be proud, or at least induced to smile.
Other tracks, such as the reggae-inflected 'Maybe,' find Asa in a more searching and global frame of mind. 'There never used to be / This much attention to security / Until the terror and catastrophe,' she sings, her languid alto and the loping rhythms that bear it along belying the anxiety conveyed in her lyrics. Elsewhere, over an ominous chorus of horns and a nagging snare drum, she laments, 'I feel like we're not angry enough / That while we wait, time's ticking away.'
Ironically enough, Asa (pronounced 'Asha') records for a label called Naive. And yet as evidenced by zingers such as 'Why is it so much religions yet there's so little love?,' there's nothing in the least bit puerile about this young woman or her irrepressible, humanity-minded pop. --Washington Post, Bill Friskics-Warren, September 5, 2011