Album - Ijele the TravelerArtiste - FlavourRecord Label - 2nite Music Group (2017)Duration - 64 minutes

You have to respect Flavour. The Nigerian Highlife singer has made a career out a single genre in this day and age of divergent sounds. And he has done it by creating iterations of Igbo Highlife and folk, fusing it into every song, every soundscape, and yielding positive results.

And while sometimes he appears to be on the periphery of the music conversation, he continues to lead a niche crowd, which grows with every project.

‘Ijele the Traveler’, the singer’s fifth full-length record, does not stray from all of his other projects. It is a traditional inspired, romance-Highlife sonorous ride, fitted with variations of his music making ability. Lead single ‘Virtuous woman’ is in the mold of earlier hits ‘Golibe’ and ‘Ada ada’; formulaic piano ballads designed to draw in hopeless romantics.

Standout track ‘Baby na yoka’ fuses Reggaeton and Highlife into a commercial killer single. It’s the ultimate marriage of local music with a universal sound to hack radio, parties and distant African markets. ‘Sake of love’ attempts to throw Flavour into the mid-tempo sound structure dominating Nigerian radio. Sarkodie provides balance on the record. ‘Loose guard’ featuring Phyno obeys the same rule, but balanced pop artistry can be enjoyed in syrupy ‘Ukwu Nwata’ and its jerky bridge.

Sometimes though this chopping and fusing is overdone, and it all tends to blur ‘Jaiye’, comes off as a tired extension of 2015’s ‘Wake up’ featuring Wande Coal. There’s also a welcome Trap influence on ‘Body calling’, but repetition and the late inclusion of Terry Apala leaves the song hanging unfinished.

Occasionally he embraces a more direct, less mainstream side (the folksy Zoro-assisted ‘Ijele’; the grateful soft-rock of ‘Most high’ which is a culmination of his chance meeting with blind Liberian boy Semah G. Weifur), but he is mostly unwilling to change the format. This latest effort might represent a small progression, but it’s far from an evolution.

Rating: 3.5/5


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