The Lagos Music Salon

The Lagos Music Salon

While her roots are in Rwanda and Uganda, the American-born singer Somi was drawn to Nigeria for the inspiration that drives The Lagos Music Salon. Past efforts have been anchored in jazz, with elements of simmering R&B. Yet she mostly leaves jazz behind on her third studio album—and not only because she (joined by Angelique Kidjo) does an excellent version of the Fela classic “Lady” as well as the Afrobeat “Akobi: First Born S(U)N.” She also pairs a string quartet with rapper Common on the downtempo “When Rivers Cry” to fine effect on a song about pollution. The TED fellow also emphasizes issues relating to African women on songs like “Four African Women” and “Brown Round Things.” There are also several songs that address affairs of the heart, with the taunt “Still Your Girl” and the smoldering “Ginger Me Slowly” standing out. Lighter elements of pop and R&B come into play on “Ankara Sundays” and the slow-building “Last Song,” and there are also short snippets of conversation for ambiance, making this an album truly sweeping in breadth as well as ambition.

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