Asa - Live in Paris

2009-10-19 16:19
Live in Paris
Nigerian soul sister of the world Asa's self-titled debut proved her talent, but left her sitting somewhere between world and pop – not quite traditional enough to fit in the "World" category that guarantees sales in Europe and America, yet rather too thoughtful and politically conscious (too authentic really) for most radio mixes.

This live album exploits the best of her strongest traits – her ability to personalise the political struggles and troubles of the world, while presenting her songs beautifully. Her powerful, caramel-mousse vocals tell of romantic longing struggling to overcome sadness and fear on the addictive lament, "Subway". She is frank about how the bars work both ways when our roles and our prejudices trap us on "Jailor". And rather than just being live versions of the same songs, the environment gives these version extra warmth, while losing nothing in quality thanks to a virtually flawless recording and Asa's increased experience onstage. The live colab with fellow-Nigerian singer-songwriter and guitarist Keziah Jones (who is huge in France) is also not to be missed.

Parisians love music from other places and France maintains cultural ties with former colonies. The city's willingness to be a melting pot makes it much more exciting than culturally agoraphobic museum cities like Rome. And the hip standing-room-only crowd clap adoringly along in response to her spirit onstage, finding joy in the music despite the frequently dark messages in the English lyrics.

The sleeve notes, sadly, are nothing to write home about... there's probably enough material there for an SMS - and not a particularly interesting one. But the album comes with a bonus DVD of Asa performing live, which showcases some different versions of the same tracks, with more focus on audience participation and Asa rocking it up front in her thick glasses in the stage lights. It's nicely shot and has many sweet-funny moments, like her self-effacing interactions attempts to chat up the the crowd in stumbling French.

Asa proves her talent is built to last and powerful enough to breach cultural and language divides in this live performance before her adoring French fanbase.

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