Music has always been a way with which I could identify myself. Growing up, I remember being in an “all-female band” with my friends. I should also note that we were somewhere around 6 or 7 years old at the time. However, in my mind, I was going to grow up and become this bad ass musician with a solo career. Fast forward to many years after that, I am now a scientist….a happy one, but I definitely have no music career….lol. So, when I’m not in lab culturing bacteria or running gels, I take the rest of my time to appreciate music. More than anything, I am a huge fan of music by people who take risks to define their sound in a unique way. This past summer, my series featured one my Nigerian faves named Femi Leye. You can check out that post HERE. In summary, this dude is a beast on the guitar and upon the release of his new album which I’ll be blogging about today, I have resolved that he is simply a spirit inhabiting a human body which is why his brain and fingers do what they do which is producing and playing great music that take you on a journey.
Side note: This blog post is over a week late and it has less to do with the fact that I’m now in grad school, still getting used to a new city and schedule and more to do with the fact that I couldn’t find the words to explain what I was feeling. So here goes nothing and I hope the words can find themselves as I type away.
Ekaabo /eh-kah-baw/ means welcome in Yoruba which is one of the 3 major languages in Nigeria. This is the title of Femi Leye’s debut album and very fitting if I do say so myself. At this point you might be asking yourself the question – welcome to what? Well, I say welcome to music lover playground. This album is filled with so many swings and slides and playhouses and merry-go-rounds (which I love) of intentional sounds and hard work which he clearly put in. He describes the album as a “welcome to the person of Femi Leye – the trials, the hurdles and the joys.” Every guitar strum was telling a story of his life and they bore the emotions that came with those experiences.
So, the first time I heard the entire album, I had just come back from church and couldn’t wait to listenas I had been waiting all week. I knew it was going to be great, but nothing could have prepared me for the level of awe I was in after I had listened to it. It felt as though the guitar and I were having a conversation that only we could understand and I literally couldn’t form sentences to express it. I am still trying so forgive me if I’m coming off as a huge fan girl, but when I hear authentic Nigerian sound fused with emotions and great skill, there isn’t much I can do to help myself. The first song on the album is a talking drum skit. The talking drum is my favorite Nigerian instrument by far and although I didn’t know what the drum was saying, I was pleased with the sound. Next is Irawo Owuro which he wrote when he was 19 and in my mind, I’m thinking of what I did when I was 19 and it definitely wasn’t close to this. There’s one sweet lick on this one and this is where my “dang -this-is-so-good” stank face pretty much starts. It’s so easy going and messy all at the same time. The song basically ends and I’m still swinging my head from left to right because it just feels good. Smile is track 3 and this is the song that introduced me to the person of Femi Leye, so my welcome started here on this track. Plus if you’re a scat singer, you can do some damage on this one. Wewe ft Naomi Mac is my cooking track. I hope that doesn’t sound too weird, but when I’m in the Kitchen, I just like easy flowing music like this one. Think one pinch of salt (wewe o wewe,) a gentle stir (wewe o wewe.) See what I mean? Ok, on a more serious note this is an easy listen.
I decided to start on a new paragraph because the songs that come next just deserve their own. Orin Ife is probably one of the songs I connect to the most. The day I heard it, I told Femi that this was going to be a wedding song and you can probably guess that from the title (Orin Ife means Love Song.) It just shows an understanding of those soft, intimate, emotional patterns of the heart and how they work together to produce something beautiful. That one definitely leaves me with a fuzzy feeling on the inside. So, if you’re getting married soon you should give that one a listen ASAP!!! Adina is a dedication to women and how beautiful they are. So yeah, you know that one definitely gets a stamp of approval from me. So ladies, if you’re ever feeling crappy there’s a track that should instantly make you feel better. Speaking of feeling crappy, the next track was inspired by heartbreak. It features the amazing spoken word poet Titilope Sonuga. Rain is such a beautiful song because despite the fact that it was borne from pain, the perspective was one of newness and not resentment. If you’ve been through a heartbreak, Titi’s words might be as relatable as the notes from Femi’s guitar. The next 2 tracks Better Age and Sise are my grown folk sound. It just has a seasoned touch to it. My good friend said it reminds her of her dad. Sise reminds me of a community of elders whose advice you think you don’t need, but as you get older, you remember every word. I loved the unison singing throughout that track, it worked well as reinforcement to drive the message home. Finally, my all-time jam, Ayo which means Joy always gets me dancing. It’s such a crowd pleaser and even my dad loves it!!!!
I don’t know what you’re waiting for, but I definitely encourage you to go on iTunes or Spinlet and download this amazing album. I am yet to find a favorite one, but if you do find one please let me know. Thank you Femi for sharing your talent with us mere mortals, there are greater things in store for you!!!!