Paris-based Nigerian vocalist Bukola "Asa" Elemide is adept at weaving varicoloured musical tapestries: her second album mixes soul, reggae, lyrics in English and Yoruba – and a cover photo by fashionable Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Mondino, which suggests things aren't quite as homespun as they sound. It's a warm, inviting blend, with Asa's husky, lightly swinging vocals its focal point. It's undeniably cosy listening; Fela Kuti and Bob Marley were childhood idols, but their conscious commentary isn't Asa's thing, and when she does address the state of the world, her indignation is couched in wistful platitudes ("Why is there so much religion, yet there is so little love?").
Parisian-born, Nigerian-raised Asa peppers her debut album, Beautiful Imperfection, with African-sonding song titles like “Bimpé”, “Oré”, and “Broda Olé”, but don’t be misled: This is straight-up western pop music, slickly produced and well performed, but a far cry from anything resembling “world music”. Asa possesses a silky voice and a reasonably impressive range, but little on the album is challenging or unexpected. This isn’t to say that the record is bad.
Imperfect but frequently beautiful, much like the world it inhabits. Fraser McAlpine 2011. Some albums bark; some whinny. Some bray and some howl. This album purrs. There may be lyrical turmoil in places, there may be dark clouds overhead; but sonically this is a cat in your lap, on a comfy sofa ….