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Somi - The Lagos Music Salon / The Absolute Sound review

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The daughter of immigrants from Rwanda and Uganda, Somi recently moved from New York City to Lagos, Nigeria, for 18 months, an experience that inspired this major label debut, The Lagos Music Salon. She's lived in Africa before, and her music has the depth and sophistication you might expect from someone so worldly, with a potent blend of African rhythms, jazz harmonies, and richly-layered vocal harmonies. At the same time, the songs Somi crafts with various co-writers could be described as catchy soul-flavored pop, especially on the stand-out tracks at the beginning of the record. As accessible as Sade (whose voice Somi sometimes recalls), "Love Juju #1" is sultry and seductive. Featuring Angélique Kidjo, "Lady Revisited" lights up with some funky Afropop rhythms. "Ginger Me" is a sweet and sexy love song with heartmelting lyrics while "Akobi: First Born S(u)n" boasts a beautiful melody and (like many cuts) benefits from the pointillistic guitar of Liberty Ellman and the taut bass lines of Michael Olatuja. A clean recording does a nice job of staging varied instrumentation in a detailed yet uncluttered fashion. There are soul, jazz, pop, and world music fans aplenty who would embrace this music, and hopefully it will get the exposure it deserves.