A heartache is emotional. As a people, it is often easy and attractive - albeit unhealthy - to be silent in pain and mental health issues. But as the times have shown, expression a core part of convalescence. Warmth is birthed when relatability is birthed of an emotional pain shared.
On the seven-track Unsolicited - which is her third body of work, that is South African singer, Ipeleng. With a selection of ballads, folksy neo-soul and R&B, Ipeleng discusses troubles in love, mental health issues and even loss. At the root of the documentation seems the earliest stages of acceptance and healing, even as Ipeleng still nurtures distant denial on, 'Patience.'
Starting with the conflicted distant longing, laced with a dose regret on the neo-soul, 'Here We Are,' Ipeleng discusses the details of awry love. She sings, "I shouldn't be crying over some guy, but here we are..." as the songs reveals insights into the humbling experience of love - especially a sour one.
With the rainfall sample on 'Comfortable,' Ipeleng mimics heartbreak deep in spring while reminiscing close to a window that overlooks the streets. While the love she discusses makes her feel comfortable, it was also filled with lies and and abuse of her commitment. Here, she becomes resolute in her decision to walk away.
'A Craving' uses a ballad and the soft piano chords that form its birth to discuss a need for intimacy once felt. This intimacy was filled with sex, subtle nibbles and deft use of words. The segue from 'A Craving' to 'A Need' is just amazing. If Ipeleng was defiant and resolute in her decision to walk away on, 'Comfortable,' she drags her feet on 'A Need.'
She dreads the feeling of being alone and the love admittedly holds the best part of her soul. However, it also takes a toll on her mental health and she eventually accepts that she might need to walk away to love herself like her erstwhile lover could have loved her.
'I Get Lost' feels like R&B crafted on an escape into a barren space filled with nature. Ipeleng reminisces in a sharp haze of regret. Even the words of comfort from her mom doesn’t seem to aid her. The feeling that the love gave her still hovers over her like an inevitable storm.
‘Focus’ is a little sonically happier than the previous five songs. On a guitar-rich beauty of Folk/Neo-Soul, Ipeleng documents the impairment in her concentration. ‘Patience’ closes out this EP to a piano-based ballad on which Ipeleng documents loss. But this time, with a dose of finality - like death.
Ipeleng feels like if Daughter, London Grammar and Jhene Aiko had a child. She has the morose expression of Daughter, in the calmness of an emotional storm, the beautiful songwriting and vocal delivery of Daughter as well as the deftness in expressing emotional conflict like Jhene Aiko.
This is by far one of the best bodies of work African music has seen in 2020. Its title seems inspired by the pain that forms its fabric. More than anything, this EP is a diary of 'Unsolicited Pain.'
You can play the EP HERE.
• 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
Tracklist and Sequencing: 1.6/2
Content, Songwriting and Themes: 1.9/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.9/2
9.2 - Champion