Label: Universal Music Division Mercury Records
Ayo Ogumnakin, a young German of Nigerian and Gypsy decent, brings a laidback American soul feel to world music-etched, acoustic singer-songwriter material. The end results are atmospheric and pleasing -- Ayo's material is closer to such low-key male performers as Amos Lee and Raul Midon than to flashier female stars like Alicia Keys or Joss Stone. And like Sade (who also had a Nigerian father), Ayo specializes in downbeat torch songs. The reggae-ish "Down on My Knees" was a hit in Europe, but "How Many Times" and "These Days" are stronger cuts. In case you were wondering, the name Ayo translates as "joyful."