The story of Saba Lou warrants mention for its very weirdness alone: this is the music of the nine-year-old female progeny of once-vaunted indie-funk giant King Khan. Now, at first it kinda rubbed me the wrong way, me being a little adverse to the whole concept of child phenoms perhaps through overexposure to the whole Michael Jackson story, but I decided to check it out anyway — after all I am white, what do I know about black music.
Right away, as compared with her father’s, the Saba Lou sound is bare and soft, an essentially Little Joy-approximating singer/songwriter realm. The lyrics to “Lost and Found” yearn for being “home with you” after a long trip of nondescript nature and “Waiting for the Bus,” while fleetingly concrete, turns metaphorical quickly: “I fall from a cloud / It suddenly turns into shadows / I wake up in a haze / That could have lasted for days”. Now, you might be thinking, hmm, King Khan seems to have put his daughter on antidepressants, or she seems to be complaining about nothing at all, which is just as bad, obviously. Well, all pop music needs lament, even if it’s foolish, as a vehicle (see Little Joy’s “Only when the goal / Is unattainable / Do I start to feel / That I’m losing myself”). Also, Saba Lou’s voice happens to be beautiful (yes, I could see this music soundtracking a Drew Barrymore film for sure, the way the Joy did in Whip it).
“Our Fate” bleeds in nicely with Lou approximating Chan Marshall, albeit a just SLIGHTLY tone-deaf one (not really to enough of an extent to really make it a problem). The guitar lines apparently provided by Khan have the selfsame, cutesy-bouncy jazz rhythm that have all over this project, which causes the LP to wear just a tad thin, but the songwriting bulwark here does have a knack for toggling chord progressions between major and minor, granting the work the appropriate fullness of jazz tinge, to compliment the frisky rhythms.
Now, when you get into the whole nepotism of the thing, you might be surprised: the goods tend to outweigh the bads, as god da** this album just SOUNDS so good: King Khan has clearly zoned out a state-of-the-art theater setup for his acoustic plucking, which flanks Lou’s funny and coy lyrics with the sort of professionalism that’s sort of refreshing, in this age of excessive DIY. Also, the little girl’s lyrics in “Marzipan Revenge” are somethin’ else: “Revenge is sweet as Marzipan / Get it early while you can / Life is but a lily / Beauty at first glance / But the pollen on your table / Stains your guilty pants”. !!! Now I know guys… but I must say, this wasn’t the “black music” I expected (black-hearted, to boot).