Wash up your ears, chew up any pre-conceived notions about this album. There’s a new Omawumi in the making.
Album - Timeless
Artiste - Omawumi
Record Label - Cabal Entertainment (2017)
Duration - 49 minutes
Omawumi’s career reads out as one of Nigerian music’s most respectable stories. Prior to this, she had carved out her path and remained relevant on the scene regardless of whatever step the general industry in Nigeria takes. And it’s all down to the durability of her music.
This time, she is taking it in another direction, ditching local pop for what she terms ‘exportable African music’. She shared this with Pulse as far back as January 2016, just after she released ‘Play na play’ which featured African Grammy Award winner, Angelique Kidjo.
“That is who I am. When I go into the studio, when I want to write, the first genre that comes into my head is mid-tempo lovers Rock. That’s how I write…I was brought up in a home where I listened to different genres of music, and the ones that stick are songs that are deep-rooted in African music , but also have influences of jazz and live music. I have always knew that that’s what I wanted to do. I have always written in that direction.” Omawumi said.
Where previously she had been forced by local producers to conform to prevalent pop waves and sound motifs, she has decided to cut all of those voices out and create music that is true to her spirit. She teamed up with producer Cobhams Asuquo to make this album live. Omawumi and Cobhams recorded with live instrumentation in Nigeria, South Africa and America, from orchestras in Jòzi to horns in Lagos and strings in Houston, and she voiced everywhere.
And what is the result?
With a lilting, mountain-spring-clear vocal, Omawumi effortlessly brings to mind the greats of world music, whose artistry and strength she channels throughout her 11 tracks. ‘Dolapo’ is the true celebration of vocal strength. She explores her entire range, picking from a colourful spectrum of vocal registers to create a wonder. This is exportable African music that digs deep into the past. There’s nostalgic Funk in ‘Somtin’, while she plugs jazz into the remake of Fela Kuti’s only love song ‘Ololufe’. It’s a beautiful marriage of Afrobeat, only this time, there’s a compelling emphasis on the horns.
The key here for Omawumi is her ability to plough through genres, to harvest elements for powerful records. The reggae guitars of ‘E don loss (If God does not will it)’, is refreshing. ‘Butterflies’ with its piano accompanying is a sorrowful fiddle that feels comforting. But it is contrasted against the dance fest which is the remade classic ‘Africa’, which employs the beat-making talents of Uhuru and the steadying vocals of legend Salif Keita.
With each song on “Timeless,” Omawumi is reinventing herself by touching at her core musical essence. All of the creations here possess depth, character and a soul that draws in the listener. It isn’t exactly what many fans expect from the project, but it is what they can grow to love and appreciate on a level that is beyond Nigeria.
3-Worth Checking Out