Liya has a star-potential and ‘Alari’ is a timely evidence of that [Pulse EP Review]

In a lot of ways, Liya is like a Yoruba-speaking blend of Angelique Kidjo, Brenda Fassie and Tiwa Savage, but she’s not directly similar to any of them.

Liya releases impressive debut EP, 'Alari.' (DMW)

In 2020, Liya signed to Davido’s label, DMW and became the first lady of the label, joining the likes of Peruzzi, Dremo and Idowest on the label. The sultry singer then released her first two singles, ‘Be My Vibe’ and ‘Melo.’

With the sample of an Angelique Kidjo classic, ‘Melo’ was where Liya really showed what makes her an interesting study. In the video, she was dressed regally, showcasing her famous good looks. Musically, what really stood out was the type of Afro-pop she employed as well as the creative use of her vocals.

It was so Auto-tuned, yet the treble in her voice was easily identifiable. The song also featured a blend of Yoruba proverbs and pop culture references. These elements were going to be her unique identifiers, we just didn’t realize. On August 20, 2021, she released her debut EP, Alari.

The EP was significantly produced by K Dream and Zaki, both of whom deserve praise for their respective creative use of bass legatos. Across six tracks, Liya capitalized on the identifiers which she debuted on ‘Melo’ and extended a little further.

With this EP, it’s also confirmed that Liya’s greatest strength is her technique, which comes from her ability to conquer beats with unique flow schemes, deft vocal experimentation - even with the special effects - and her even the adlibs.

In a lot of ways, Liya is like a Yoruba-speaking blend of Angelique Kidjo, Brenda Fassie and Tiwa Savage, but she’s not directly similar to any of them. It’s also obvious that Liya is a product of their influences.

Liya is also deep. While some of her lyrics - or the proverbs employed - on the title-track are not coherent, Liya makes up for those lapses by producing the appropriate dose of musicality and sonic immersion that the beat required. It's so good that a not-so-finicky listener would overlook those lapses.

Moreover, she makes enough sense to follow her story. She also experiments Yoruba words and her delivery, to reflect the depth of her craft.

With ‘Alari,’ ‘Lakiribito,’ ‘Adua’ and ‘Eledumare,’ Liya underlined her major attraction as a Yoruba girl, producing deep lyrics and proverbs.

While some of her Yoruba sentences on ‘Alari’ and ‘Lakiriboto’ aren’t as coherent or easily discernible, the way she delivered them to suit her melodies will catch your attention. She also constantly deferred to a God figure, either through the earnest prayers of ‘Adua’ with Christian inferences or “Ausubillahi” to Allah on ‘Years Ago’ or to ‘Olodumare.’

The music is also significantly positive, as it meanders between switching tempos of Afro-pop.

What really impressed this writer is how she squarely chooses to focus on Yoruba with words like ‘Lakiriboto,’ which is Yoruba for a sexually inactive woman, how she employs figures like Suliya and sings to herself on ‘Adua’ and the aforementioned deferment to a supreme being.

For a lot of reasons, ‘Alari EP’ will surprise many with its quality and the sheer uniqueness of Liya and her brand of music. It’s literally the female version of Chrome Eccentric, which Marlian Music artist, Zinoleesky debuted in 2020. This comparison isn’t about the style of music, but about the surprising quality and the high-calibre replay value.

When all is said and done, it’s very hard to pinpoint the best tracks on this EP and that’s a blessing. While ‘Alari’ and ‘Lakiriboto’ are obvious standout records with great commercial potential, ‘Adua’ and ‘Olodumare’ are equally beautiful records. So is ‘Years Ago.’

In the end, Liya’s engineers might need to slow down the heightened auto-tune use and Liya needs to deliver her lines with more clarity. More tracks like ‘Years Ago,’ which are delivered in English and Pidgin, will open her to more listeners.

In Yoruba, Alari means to stand out. More than anything, Liya has definitely put herself in the conversation with this EP.

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

Album Sequencing: 1.8/2

Themes and Delivery: 1.5/2

Production: 1.7/2

Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.7/2

Execution: 1.5/2

Total:

8.3 - Champion

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