- Audio CD (Sept. 6 2011)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Universal Music Canada
- ASIN: B005HVR4BA
- Other Editions: Audio CD | LP Record
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #70,037 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Double vinyl LP pressing. 2011 album from the Nigerian vocalist. Renowned for fusing her roots with contemporary soulful Pop, Asa has proven herself to be an intelligent and socially conscious individual using her musical talents to address social and political issues. Beautiful Imperfection is, quite simply, a beautiful record. First single 'Be My Man' is a fine slice of irresistible soul-snapping retro groove that recalls Osibisa and a Rock tinge inspired by The Clash, all marshaled by an astonishingly self-assured vocal turn.
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The singer is the Nigerian Asa and she has a small, delicate, intimate voice with a slight Nigerian accent, which never overstates or gets out of a very comfortable mezzoforte dynamic. The phrasing is always lilting and a tad melancholic, where she never pushes the music but sits inside and behind the groove, giving it a very relaxed feel.
Unfortunately or fortunately my real interest was more pricked by the producer/arranger, Benjamin Constant. There is some very tasty, smooth production going on here'far more than you would expect from any pop CD. First of all the panning! Lots of hard right or left acoustic guitar played African style (3 or 4 strings) while some light African percussion might sit on the opposite side, creating all this space for this intimate voice and the rest of the band. Throughout the album, players are sitting in their own 'room' giving the mix an otherworldly quality, especially in the verses. The production is very layered dynamically, so there is a lot of stuff going on in the back of the mix that give the sound a bigness or thickness'but it never gets in the way because it's mixed really, really well.
Now the arrangements themselves--never overbearing---but he's bringing a wealth of knowledge and taste to the table from the Beatles to Bjork to dance hall to jazz to metal to pop, Nashville smoothness. The choruses are so tasty and thick in the arrangement and production they just totally seduce you with sonic flirtations. At the same time he still keeps it in the genre, which is no mean feat. He's also working with some very ripe studio players who play very dynamically and with lots of licks and riffs that just float by like delicious morsels.
Finally the finished mix has a huge spectral range'the low end on this CD is righteous'but that might be at the mastering stage but I doubt it. The mixer really managed to put a lot of bass into the instruments without a hint of muddiness.
Musical highlights for me were 2. Maybe (Bjorkish glock, dance hall trombones, great electronic background vocals, nice Hammond) 4.Preacherman (electric guitar riff in the chorus) 5. Bimpe (electric guitar in the chorus) 7. OK OK (the chorus is Nashville thickness gorgeousness). I'm repeating myself, but almost every chorus has something to die for. Check it out if you like your pop sophisticated.
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