NAYO: ‘African Girl’ (Label: Fyro Music)

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NAYO: 'African Girl'

Soul purists – a blinkered, myopic breed at the best of times – will probably turn their noses up at this soul-infused 10-track collection by Nigerian singer/songwriter, Nayo Abidoye. If so, they’re denying themselves a deeply delicious and eminently memorable musical experience – sure, ‘African Girl’ is pop-tinged and peppered with catchy hook lines but behind the gleaming radio-friendly production values you’ll some truly fabulous songs and alluring vocal performances. Although she cites Astrud Gilberto, Bob Marley, Sade and Fela Kuti as her four main influences, Nayo’s music bears no resemblance to anything issued by that illustrious quartet. In fact, her sound isn’t easily definable and transcends categorization – what is unequivocal, though, is that the resulting album is as refreshing, exotic and colourful as a thirst-quenching tropical cocktail. Some readers may be familiar with a couple of tracks – the excellent ‘African Girl’ and ‘Desert Storm’ – which were issued as singles in 2007. The title track is a beautiful song – a gently undulating, hypnotic groove laced with subtle tinctures of keyboard and guitar over which Nayo delivers a plaintive and infectious vocal melody. The soft, bossa nova-style ambience of ‘Overdose On Love’ is also seductive to the ear, as are the poignant ‘Harder Than Rock,’ ‘Fool For You’ and the sensuous, Latin-flavoured ‘Mr. So & So,’ which features atmospheric touches of Spanish guitar. To tell the truth, there are no duff moments on this attractive album – the fact that I’ve been playing ‘African Girl’ more than any other album during the last month or so tells its own story. A shining example of well-crafted, noughties pop-soul.
(CW) 4/5