Paris born and Lagos raised singer-songwriter Asa's debut self-titled release is a record that begs the listener's attention. With poignant lyrics intertwined throughout each song, Asa is the most brutally, yet beautifully honest record I've heard released in 2009 thus far. Every song on her album is a new gem with moving lyrics mixed in with Afro-beats and soulful reggae influences. In fact, she has already been compared to Bob Marley and Erika Badu and it is no wonder that she has most recently opened up for Femi Kuti on several of his tour dates.
That's not all either. Asa has had great success in Africa and Europe, most recently being awarded the Prix Constantine for the Best New French Artist of 2008. Things have been picking up for Asa in America as well. While her album was released last week in the US, first single "Jailer" has caught much attention throughout the airwaves as well as recently appeared on NPR's "All Songs Considered."
Asa begins the album with "Jailer" and lyrics, "Am in chains you're in chains too/I wear uniforms, you wear uniforms too/Am a prisoner/You're a prisoner too Mr. Jailer." With light guitar strumming and keyboard features, the story within the song jumps out to the listener. She continues her tale, "Life is not about your policies/All the time/So you better rearrange your philosophies/And be good to your Fellow man."
Her one-sheet described her as a "culturally conscious singer-songwriter" and I couldn’t agree more. Tracks like "Fire On the Mountain" and "No One Know" are fitting examples of Asa's cultural consciousness. Lyrics such as "I wake up in the morning/Tell you what I see on my TV screen/I see the blood of an innocent child/And everybody’s watching" and later, "Tell me who’s responsible/For what we teach our children/Is it the Internet/Or the stars on the television?" within track "Fire On the Mountain" demonstrate this.
During "No One Know" Asa sings, "Tell me what’s the need to go to war/All the killings just to settle some one else’s score/When the victory isn’t even sure/No one knows tomorrow." Seemingly fitting for today's world issues, Asa continues to leave an impact on the listener track by track of her debut album.
From the look of it, Asa is not just another emerging musician, but one who is here to stay. She brings a much needed awakening to what the music industry as well as the media have been lacking — truthful lyrics with real emotion and sincerity.
Watch Asa's music video for "Jailer" below. For more on Asa, be sure to check out her MySpace.