Nonso Amadi is the Nigerian singer and with the distinct voice and style.

He is also a producer and sound engineer, depending on the capacity you require.

Nonso Amadi visits Pulse and talks about his new EP, 'Free' amongst other things. (Pulse Nigeria)
Nonso Amadi visits Pulse and talks about his new EP, 'Free' amongst other things. (Pulse Nigeria)

A few months ago, he visited and exclusively revealed to Pulse that he would drop this EP in July. At the time, he had three singles circulating the airwaves in ‘Emergency,’ ‘Comfortable’ featuring Ghanaian rapper, Kwesi Arthur and ‘No Crime.’ The video for ‘Comfortable’ dropped shortly after the interview.

A few days after having a chat with Ebro Darden on Beats 1, he released the 6-track Free, his third EP after War - a joint project with Odunsi The Engine - and Alone. Here is a review of the EP;

Never

This will be the second time Amadi will annoyingly cut the best track on his EP and shorten the enjoyment for his audience - an apology is required. The first time was on Alone EP. The song was titled, ‘Alone’ featuring Aika Jones. These songs have the very best production on the Free and Alone, respectively.

This time, ‘Never’ is a lo-fi R&B with a dancehall-tinged percussion. Amadi’s voice is a piercing brush with which he paints a picture of himself as peace-loving due to his understanding. With metaphors that talk about life at sea, no wonder the woman is fascinated.

Better featuring Simi

The patois attempt is flawed, but the songwriting is again commendable. ‘Better’ is a love song that sees Amadi attempt to win love with equal doses of nostalgia, ego and affection. Apparently, the girl is one he has craved for a minute. Now that he has a “rover,” he’s pulling up.

It’s a good song, but one questions how wanting to ‘do better’ correlates with a girl he’s seemingly meeting for the first time. Simi plays the role of the girl, an eager and willing lover who loves role play - her rhymes are sick.

It feels like the drums should have been louder as the melody is promising and maybe we could have gotten that palmwine music at the end much earlier.

Free

The title-track, ‘Free’ is an upbeat fusion of African percussion with what could have been mid-late 2000s R&B of The Dream and J Holiday. On it, Amadi tells a story of dysfunctional and dying love from which he desires freedom. The great question is why does Amadi want to go back to a woman he feels nothing for? Is it suffer head?

The violins around 1:32 alongside the guitars that follow are beautiful. Again, the final moments of this song are incredible. This time, it’s dubstep drum arrangement with a bongo drum. This is great.

No Crime

Amadi sings, “Now I’m in love again and it feels like Novacane… Don’t show me love…” Love is a state of affection, so how can Novacane - which in dentistry is an anesthetic and in pop culture, a numbness to pleasure - feel like love?

I guess Amadi is trying to say the love is a reduction of pain, but his lyrics are quite open to interpretation. An afro-fusion track, it was a jam eight months ago as it is now. But lyrically, there are some holes.

That said, there is positivity on the topical segues of his track listing. Till this point, Amadi has been able to tell a story of discovery of love, dysfunction and now rediscovery.

Go Outside featuring Mr Eazi

This one is a proper jam set in Vancouver, Canada and Lagos, Nigeria. It presumably tells the story of his stardom and the perils of the female adulation it brings on a healthy love life. Amadi’s second verse is better, but his first verse lyrically leaves the listener to buttress the story and presume that he’s talking about his stardom and the female adulation it brings. 

On the other hand, Mr. Eazi embraces the female adulation - don’t tell JTO that one o. If Amadi’s intentions are to buy us with the final few seconds of each track with musical mastery, he’s succeeded. We’re cheap like that.

What Makes You Sure

A seemingly positive ending to a topsy-turvy love story, the lovers now navigate the unnerving common theme in relationships, trust.

This time, it’s worse. The girl’s friends don’t like Amadi’s character.

Verdict

As he told Pulse, he is a lover boy that likes love and again, it shows. But this time, he is not stuck in the usual teenage bubble-pop love that trails love songs. There is a reality to his stories - they are not all doom and gloom, and neither are they all sunshine and roses.

Love is work and Amadi brings that reality to the fore. His track listing is topically impeccable. It navigates the discovery of love, the dysfunction in love, then piques on rediscovery before talking about perils of stardom. Finally, he touches on trust.

Musically, the final seconds of each song are something to savour. They threatens to bribe this writer into forgetting the weaknesses of this EP, but review we shall. Asides those final few seconds on each track, the production is good, but it doesn’t really push the envelope musically. But Amadi is only growing and he should figure that out soon.

Topically, Amadi is a good songwriter, but his songwriting can be a little rough around the edges with incomplete pictures and confusing analogies/metaphors.

In the end, there is also the the subject of why ‘Free’ is the title of this project. Does he crave freedom from the dysfunctions of love? Again, he fails to answer that, leaving his listeners to 'fill in the gap.'

On the bright side, these love stories showcase Nonso Amadi's obvious growth as an artist and a person. The stories seem effortless like he has pockets full of them, unlike 'Tonight,' which is a very good song, but an obvious cooked-up story.

With all said and done, Free is a good listen.

Ratings: /10

•   0-1.9: Flop

•   2.0-3.9: Near fall

•   4.0-5.9: Average

•   6.0-7.9: Victory

•   8.0-10: Champion

Pulse Rating: /10

Tracklisting and Segues: 2/2

Songwriting and Themes: 1.2/2

Production: 1.4/2

Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.2/2

Execution: 1.0/2

Total:

6.8/10 - Victory