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Najwa pushes the envelope of Malaysian music with Innocent Soul, her long-anticipated album after a string of Facebook playlist demo's, live performances at venues including No Black Tie (available on YouTube) and an appearance at StarHill Gallery's annual timepieces exhibition. This studio version captures much of the glitter and chemistry you will find in her shows, only this time without her band Thing One.

Being a bit of a departure from her contemporaries genre-wise, Najwa finds a niche to fill in what she calls "neo-soul", which is really a mix of blues, jazz, soul and a dash of soft electronica somewhere in between. Which is an amazing mix really.

Vocally, if you like Joss Stone, Whitney Houston or even Toni Braxton--that's a lot of uh uh uh! black soul there. And she pulls off some impressive bars of scatting (How Long Must I Wait) and it makes you think OMG it's Ella! (Fitzgerald, mind you.) There's also some loungey stuff in there so you never get bored and it doesn't all sound the same.

A few final thoughts were why the album was 100% English. "Kau Yang Punya", usually a soulful sequel to "Jealousy" in her shows, was left out at the launch and the album. I was also expecting a couple of other tunes in Bahasa Malaysia which could add another dimension to her music.


Nevertheless, I finished the album marvelling her extraordinary songwriting skills--this is one mega talented young lady who has got all the must-have feelings in jazz down pat with the voice to match.

My Recommendation: Get the album. You'll be blown away. Available in music stores.


Debbie



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