Let Me Be

Rasha's captivating voice takes a modernist excursion with Let Me Be.

Rasha's captivating voice takes a modernist excursion with Let Me Be. The Sudan-born singer's recording career took off in 1998 with the release of Sundaniyat, a debut that leaned heavily on traditional Sudanese music and was a hit in Europe. Let Me Be is a marked departure from that style. The musical arrangements borrow freely from blues, jazz, and pop styles—more Europop than worldbeat—and less from North African styles and rhythms. Rasha wrote the lyrics for all 11 songs, and her main preoccupation is the state of her homeland. "Ummi" is very much in the Arabic modal style, but it's an exception. The bluesy vibe of the defiant title track, the pop arrangements of "Bloody Kingdom," the feminist cautionary tale "My Girl," and the flamenco-jazz groove of "Ash'ab"—another angry lyric couched in a deceptively pleasant arrangement—are more typical of the musical sensibility that defines Let Me Be.—PVV