The Pick: Asa's latest single "Ocean" is as soothing as the name suggests.
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Asa, the veteran singer-songwriter, began a slight but noticeable rebrand at the tail-end of the pandemic year. The once reclusive star became a little more giddy and fun, utilizing social media more than she has ever done to post cute, adorable videos of her doing the most random things. There are videos of her gleefully performing an Afrobeat-inspired freestyle in a courtyard with the eclectic duo of Kingsley and Benjamin (The Cavemen), strutting playfully to Wizkid’s global hit “Essence” in what looked like a large hallway and doing a delightful dance to Rexxie and Mohbad’s “KPK” amongst many others.
This rebrand seems to have inspired a sonic switch as well; her recent releases favouring more Afropop elements than it has ever done. The horn-laden “Mayana”, the lead single from her forthcoming album V, is both sunny and rhythmic, stripping away most of the melancholy that her music is famously known for. “Ocean”, her latest single also heads in the same direction both thematically and sonically.
While “Mayana” is pretty upbeat and dance-inducing, “Ocean” turns the rhythm down a notch, merging her soulful, folksy sensibilities with that all-too-familiar Afropop bounce. P.Priime’s sharp, syncopated drums serve as her canvas here, with her soothing, repetitive pop hook and bridge buoyed by melodious hums and her savvy lyrics serving as masterful brush strokes to paint a beautiful, love-inspired image. The 39-year-old who consistently compares her love interest to the ocean has no care for tags and social constructs. “Oh boy, you got the soul and the flow / And I know we don’t live without it / Need no definition / I just want you close to me now” she sings, the subtle guitar strums and sharp drums giving her words a brighter poignancy.
“Ocean”, just like the name suggests, is incredibly soothing. Even though it slightly veers away from the core elements that characterize Asa’s music, it still manages to retain her soulfulness and lyrically sharpness, making it, like every other Asa record, an incredibly pleasurable listen.