Aja Daashuur

Before the Beginning

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This young singer/songwriter has a lot going for her -- a great voice, a great look, a great producer, and backing musicians who can provide her with everything from alt-rock crunch to techno beats to orchestral strings. She also has a good sense of melody. These things are rare enough and can carry you a good distance, especially on your debut effort. But Daashuur is repeatedly undermined by lyrics that are, by turns, banal, vapid, and subtly hypocritical. For banality, listeners have "Help Me," in which Daashuur refers to herself as a "mystery" and moans that there's "no one there to share my private hell." Bummer. For vapidity, listeners have "Shadow of the Saints," in which she criticizes Christianity for holding its adherents to high standards of behavior -- not making a case that those standards are inappropriate, just complaining that it's too hard to live up to them. And for subtle hypocrisy, listeners have the juxtaposition of "Wearing Maybelline," in which she critiques a culture that encourages women to obsess about their looks, and "Eight Seconds," which is directed at a boy so beautiful that she falls in love with him in, you know, eight seconds. Daashuur is young, and this album makes it clear that she has great talent and potential. It also makes it clear that she has some growing up to do.

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