- 29 Mar 11
French-born nigerian songstress exudes sun-dappled warmth
This second outing from Bukola Elemide – better known as Asa – finds the French-born, Nigerian songstress getting high on her own supply of positivity. From upbeat opener ‘Why Can’t We’ onwards, Beautiful Imperfection exudes the kind of sun-dappled warmth that made Corinne Bailey Rae’s self-titled debut such a success. It’s a languid, ‘all is well with the world’ vibe that only the churlish would refuse to be charmed by.
Producer Benjamin Constant ensures that the singer is always the centre of attention, the various instruments – guitars, piano, mandolin, trombone etc – carefully framing every smooth murmur, or sharp yelp. Asa’s voice is pretty as a songbird’s, full of jazzy inflections that suggest a less anguished Amy. On three tracks, she sings in her native tongue – the Niger-Congo language of Yorùbá – ably conveying meaning and emotion through vocal delivery alone. The tunes themselves could best be described as fusion music, indigenous African sounds seasoned with classic soul stylings, reggae licks and pop melody. On ‘Maybe’ the rhythm stirs gently against the sweet-breeze of Asa’s vocal, whilst the more forceful stomp and groove of ‘Be My Man’ is the sort of swinging sixties fare that Burt Bacharach would be proud to call his own.
There’s a contemplative core to this record too, with the smooth, Sade-evoking ‘The Way I Feel’ and ragged, guitar-led soulfulness of ‘OK OK’. Occasionally, however, we’re served bland dinner-party music – the artless strum of ‘Baby Gone’ and plastic pop of ‘Dreamer Girl’ are particularly lacking. Still, when Asa turns her seductress’ song on, she’s hard to resist.
- Live Review
- 25 May 23