Saba

Jidka: The Line (World Music Network/Riverboat)

Though this Somalian-born singer-songwriter shares a few vocal similarities with Shakira, she has a distinctive style. Not unlike the Colombian pop star, Saba mixes traditional elements from her native country with contemporary European-influenced instrumentation. Throughout the disc, she celebrates her heritage, singing mostly in the Xamar Weyne dialect that mixes native words and Italian slang (owing to Italy's colonization of Somalia).

One of the highlights is "Hoyo," an upbeat tune with a dance-inflected beat. According to the liner notes, the lyrics speak of a mother being separated from her baby and the pain that comes from the diaspora. The title track, translated as "The Line," deals with the singer's own emotions from having a mixed-race background — her mother was Somalian and her father was Italian — bringing feelings of "optimism, confidence, and harmony." On "Manta," she duets with Taté Nsogan in a reggae-inspired tune about the need to live in the present. The beautiful, bilingual "Je Suis Petite" addresses the impotence caused by the current conditions in Africa. Jidka is a great musical discovery, enjoyable even for those unfamiliar with the world-music scene. Some tracks could easily work on the dance floor — all it takes is an open mind.

 
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