Lagos city is the second most populous city in Africa, and the seventh in the world. With approximately fifteen million people, the city is a never sleeping giant. The hustle, bustle, and spirit of Lagos has been documented by several people.
The singer Somi attempts to capture the spirit of the city in her fourth studio album The Lagos Music Salon.
Somi is an American jazz and pop singer with Ugandan and Rwandan heritage according to her bio. In search of a "mercurial something", she travelled to Lagos, Nigeria.
The result of her pilgrimage to the city of hustlers, is an album that is cool, calm, light and relaxed. The album deviates from the hectic nature of Lagos, and embraces the calm, evening spirit of the city. Better still, it can be described as a sweet Sunday evening at home.
'The Lagos Music Salon' starts off with 'Love Juju', a breezy late night song with sweet guitar riffs reminiscent of Juju music in the 70's.
'Lady Revisited' featuring Angelique Kidjo adds a feminist twist to Fela's 1973 classic 'Gentleman'. It's gentle Afrobeat, and not hard hitting. It carries you along nicely, it doesn't grab you like typical Afrobeat.
'Ankara Sundays' highlights the motif of the album - light breezy music that captures the laid back mood of the busy city on a Sunday evening.
Somi picks up some of the lingo of the city as seen on the song 'Ginger Me Slowly'. 'When Rivers Cry' featuring Common is a break away from the light and breezy mood of the album. It is more of an international single to draw in an international audience. The song was obviously recorded in New York. Despite the change, it is still a good song. It Will serve as a lovely soundtrack for a black rights documentary with its gentle marching drums.
The beautiful singer also learns Yoruba along the way which she speaks well on the groovy 'Akobi: First Born S(un)'. And if James Bond finds himself fighting the axis of evil in Lagos, then 'Still Your Girl' sounds like the right theme song to accompany 007's latest escapades.
Somi gives us another throwback as she makes a soft remake of the classic 'Love Nwantinti' originally performed by Nelly Uchendu.
Through out the album, Somi opts to sing about the seductive nature of the commercial hub rather than its hectic life. It's a good decision.
The album is peppered with interludes of real audio conversations by Lagosians. This adds a layer of authenticity to the project.
'The Lagos Music Salon' is a refreshing piece of work. It's elegant, peaceful, smooth and relaxing. It's an enchanting love song dedicated to a side of Lagos that many people don't see.
Rating - 4 out of 5.