- Released: September 24, 2007
- Label: Riverboat
- 1.I Sogni (Dreams)
- 2.Holo (Mum)
- 3.Hanfarkaan (This Wind)
- 4.Jidka (The Line)
- 5.Le Temps Passe (Time Goes by)
- 6.Manta (Today)
- 7.Yenne Yenne (Everyone Has Their Own Duty)
- 8.Furah (The Key)
- 9.Je Suis Petite (I Am Little)
- 10.Boqoroda Meskin (Pauper Queen)
- 12.Huwauahuwa (Lullaby)
Saba: Tate Nsongan (vocals, acoustic guitar, bass instrument, percussion); Felix Moungara (vocals, background vocals); Marco Calliari (acoustic guitar); Lorenzo Corti (electric guitar); Martino Roberts, Josh Sanfelici, Federico Marchesano (bass instrument); Rosa Moreira (percussion); Suad Omar, Lao Kouyate (background vocals); Fabio Barovero.
Personnel: Lao Kouyate (vocals, kora); Lorenzo Corti (electric guitar); Fabio Barovero (accordion, keyboards, percussion, keyboard programming, drum programming).
Audio Mixers: Fabio Barovero; Josh Sanfelici.
Recording information: Gulp, Turin, Italy; Mulino Mause House, Turin, Italy; Orange Room, Turin, Italy.
Photographer: Alex Majoli.
Arranger: Fabio Barovero.
The debut from Somali-born, Italian-based actress and singer Saba is a quiet and surprising joy. It handily and easily mixes African music -- not just from Somalia, but also Cameroon and Senegalese kora -- with what's best called R&B lite, courtesy of Fabio Barovero, the founder of Italian world music band Mau Mau. It works very well indeed. The insistent riff on the title cut sounds like strict R&B, but listen again and you can hear Africa in it -- this is a record that changes your perspectives. Saba is at her best in her own language, a kind of Somali dialect, rather than when she occasionally slips into English, which sounds forced and unconvincing -- "Melissa" is a perfect example. Although the production can seem a little slick, there's a playful atmosphere to it all, and it connects the dots between Africa and American pop. It's easy to dismiss this is friendly Afro-pop, but there's more going on here. Whether it's a deliberate effort to merge forms or not, it creates something new and very satisfying. It's at its most rooted on "Furah," which brings in a griot voice and kora, but it's far from traditional, and the same applies to the percussion-fueled "Boqoroda Meskin." Saba herself has more African grit than American polish in her voice, which certainly helps propel the disc. At the same time, the music takes a lot of its cues from R&B -- just listen to the opening of "Je Suis Petite," for example. This is an album not just to move your feet and put a smile on your face, but to make you think, too. ~ Chris Nickson