Music of Tuesday, 11 October 2016
Singer Adomaa’s music, while it’s not typical, is riveting, because the truth it conveys is accurate in a way that unsettles you.
Beyond that though, it’s welcome, for it banishes exulansis: the music you’re sitting with, sobbing to, is shocking relief, because it’s tailored for you –not people your age, not people like you. You! Finally, there’s someone who understands you, there’s a song that talks back to you.
The one logical explanation to how well an artist’s work strikes your peculiar sentiment, is that they are, first of all, invested in their own “weakness”. It is what Afraba, her powerful debut EP tells us. That project, if sampled in quiet, is an overwhelming experience. Those six songs discussing her growth, because they’re shaped by compelling bareness, mirror our own growth too. Our experiences are exclusive of one another’s, but our emotions are universal. Afraba proves that. So do her recent singles Yenkor, 3 Years from 30, and What Lovers Do (which she unveils Wednesday, October 12).
Announcing herself with off-center medleys of Ghanaian and Nigerian hits/ classics last year, Adomaa has eventually settled into her own voice and confidence, experimenting with everything from Afro-jazz, to soul, to highlife, to Afrobeats (sort of).
What Lovers Do features Ghanaian hip-hop icon Jayso (who also mixed and mastered it). It’s not hip-hop, by the way. The mid-tempo highlife it arrives in, the masterful guitar progression at the beginning, and indeed throughout those nearly 4 minutes, calls to mind Alhaji K. Frimpong etc. Invoking legends brings longevity to your own work. It is the situation with Adomaa ( known privately as Joy Onyinyechukwu Adomaa Serwaa Adjeman). It’s the situation with her colleagues at Vision Inspired Music (VIM) too: FRA, Robin-Huws, TheGentleman…
What Lovers Do (written by Steve BiQo of I8 Music) explores the complexes of Adomaa’s new frontier, especially what toll it brings her relationship. Jayso’s testimony might be bleak prophecy because while he’s been in the industry for many years, the situation is the same (perhaps worse) for him. He opens a painful verse thus:
“I always tell myself say, this music I dey do no be healthy”.
Musicians, artists in general, aren’t usually models for blissful relationships, because particularly in that aspect, they’re failures. There’s always a spectacular scandal pending, and because scandal is preferred material for the media business, recovery is especially difficult. Impossible, most of the time.
But it’s great for the rest of us, because the music sounds better if sung out of a broken heart and bitter lessons.
The recent global disaster –the shocking breakup of creative arts’ most important couple; Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt –is ultimate proof that an entertainer’s pursuit of the “simple love” is guaranteed to go south, but artists are resilient. Somehow, they constantly hope, often actually believing that they’re capable of coming back from poor choices and open wounds. And what’s their excuse? “That’s what lovers do”.
Okay, we’ve heard you. Fight on.
Adomaa’s voice is soulful by default, or at the very least, articulates that motive. At the same time, her tone is extremely malleable. Observe her runs: she can channel Sade,Janelle Monáe Robinson, Emeli Sandé, NanaYaa, Efya, Erykah Badu, Esperanza Spalding, even Beyoncé (when she sings low).
It is no wonder she finds just as much success standing next to singers (Eyshun) as she does singing to rap verses from EL, KobbySam, FlowKing Stone, and now Jayso.
Jointly produced by Peewezel (who’s highlife prowess is best demonstrated on Aka Blay’s Take Away), and VIM’s genius producer TheGentleman, What Lovers Do comfortably adds to a growing catalogue of esteemed melodies which make a convincing case for her as one of the country’s favourite voices today.