While 2017 brought up a number of interesting albums, Simi Ogunleye’s “Simisola ” stands head and shoulders above the rest. This is no easy feat. This is the same year we had projects from Falz, Wizkid and Flavour. But Simi takes the prize.
We’re very lucky to have Simi. This is not because the X3M Music singer has established herself as Nigeria’s most soulful pop singer, but because she makes alternative music sound so good and democratized. Everyone with a heart can enjoy Simi, a quality that has played a role in her rise through the ranks.
Prior to 2014, this woman was seen as talented by music industry enthusiasts. She had a voice that was ethereal, but that wasn’t enough. But with the release of ‘Tiff’, she discovered that pairing that angelic vocal delivery with singing about love in the most soulful yet local melody, can be a solid combination to approach dominance.
It worked. Simi has blessed Nigeria with numerous records after that, leading the way with her romantic heart, which creates dynamic art for everyone. She’s grown with every release, improved with each hook, and spun collaborations to her advantage by obliterating her hosts. She’s a brand, certified to be the provider-general of the good music army. Now we have her love-heavy, X3M Music debut.
‘Remind me’ is a horn-and-keys-featuring opener, about her fallibilities a flawed human. Redemption is around the corner, and she is calling for it from an unnamed source. Simi leads with her vulnerabilities, emotionally pulling you into rooting for her.
For parts of this project, Simi looked to the past legends of Nigerian music inspiration. The call-and-response and title of ‘Joromi’ , is from a Victor Uwaifo -inspired record which was released in 1996. Another track, ‘ Aimasiko’ samples work from Chief Ebenezer Obey. Simi offers a twist to both records, elongating the life span of oldie melodies.
There are softer moments, like the sailing vocal delivery on the teary ‘Gone for good’ , which starts off with a solo piano backing but progresses with the sequential addition of elements. It ends with a choral backup, gongs and bass. These moments don’t last, but they contain enough, including ‘ Take me back’ , an emotive duet with Adekunle Gold . It’s simply therapeutic music, a powerful performance by two of Nigeria’s best.
It’s not all mushiness though. The other high points of the album come with a bounce. The unwinding harmony of ‘Complete me’ is led by talking drums.
‘One kain’ and ‘Original baby’ possess are dance-worthy records, with the latter displaying a Parisian jazz influence which spikes up the production. Although ‘One kain’ bears a suspiciously close resemblance to ‘ Foreign’ , which was housed on “Chemistry” EP, her joint project with Falz. ‘Hip hop Hurray’ is a decent celebratory filler track.
Simi delivers on her promise of good music. She comes through with a project that fully captures all that she chooses to offer in her artistry; Love, vocals, songwriting, rhythm and A&R. In many ways, it is the best that Nigeria has seen in 2017.