Bemyoda finds new ways to detail the human experience, with truths blending through music to drive home messages.
Album - Stark
Artist - Bemyoda
Record Label - Indie (2017)
Duration: 38 minutes
When you plough the depths of Nigerian music for something other than what radio offers in today, you will find numerous gems, probing just underneath the surface, and feeding a crowd that relies on their music for happiness and escape.
Bemyoda is at the top of that space. A singer/songwriter, and photographer based in Lagos, the young man has made music for the soul. In 2015 a re-recorded version of his debut EP “Sketch” was released, and he has scored some TV wins with acting roles 2014’s Gidi Up, and 2017 box-office success, Isoken. The latter had him appear as himself, playing his music, and contributing to the soundtrack.
“Stark” is his debut album, and it obeys all the rules of his music which explores themes of hope and conflict, love, humanity, and his Christian faith. Just as his EP, Bemyoda travels in search of artistic perfection, and that’s why the album was recorded in 4 cities in Nigeria and USA: Abuja, Lagos, Cleveland, and Nashville. It was produced by Atta Otigba, Amos Kantiok, and Paul Scholten.
The music on “Stark” shows a marked refinement which reflects the process of creating it. The acoustic guitars on album opener set up the sombre mood for the self-reflection which Bemyoda offers in a soft crooning voice. (“I’m a long way from home, trying to belong to systems I don’t care for. Here everyone pretends.”)
It is these thought-provoking lyrics and mood-bending sounds that define this project. Uplifting, incisive and sublime would be the right way to describe it. Bemyoda finds new ways to detail the human experience, with truths blending through music to drive home messages. “People say they love you, then they turn to stab you, friends for benefits go, when the benefits go…” Whether he is describing mundane human fallibilities on ‘The way it is’ or weaving picturesque imagery on ‘Child come’, there’s always an intellectual leap, a deeper understanding of the world around us, the forces that influence our existence and our roles on Earth.
‘Complicated’ is a reggae masterclass, and the benign positivity on ‘I told you’ feels like the first rays of sunlight after a long cold night. ‘Dead man walking’ might occasionally display a push for connection with God, but it’s tempered by a narrative of sorrow and despair.
Speaking about the project, Bemyoda says: “Stark is about us, about hope and conflict, about life’s twists and turns, renegade men rising to challenge status quo, about man’s need for God, about war, and about growth. Yes, Stark is intense. And spiritual. And honest.”
I couldn’t honestly agree more.
3-Worth Checking Out