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Saba

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January 22, 2008

Jidka (The Line) (Riverboat)

Half-Italian, half-Ethiopian, and born in Somalia, world-beat diva Saba bears a distinct resemblance to another international star whose career she would doubtless like to emulate: Shakira. Like the Colombian singer, Saba can belt it out in a smattering of languages, including Italian and Somali, with a little bit of English thrown into the mix, just to show she can. The music on "Jidka," which comes out next Tuesday, is a hodgepodge of styles, from the elegant pop of album opener "I Sogni" to the drum-machine snap of "Hoio," a takeoff on a traditional Somali lullaby. Saba alternates between crooning and an endearingly awkward sing-rap. Saba melds her influences with impressive fluency, so Somali folk songs and European instruments and dance beats all bear the imprint of her voracious, roving ear. Paging all A&R execs: Your next international star has arrived. [Saul Austerlitz]

ESSENTIAL "Manta"

'Sky' is by no means her limit

A lost treasure found alive

Love, slow

and easy

Around the world with Saba

Illuminating Southern rock's nuances

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