Janelia â€“ Iâ€™m An African / 2008 JaneliaSoul / http://www.janeliasoul.com / http://www.myspace.com/janeliasoul /
We rarely get African or African-centric albums for review at NeuFutur, so it really is an honor to receive Janeliaâ€™s â€œIâ€™m An Africanâ€. Set to be released on July 3rd, 2008, â€œIâ€™m An Africanâ€ is sang in both English and Yoruba, representing the two sides to Janelia. This split identity speaks to the fact that Janelia was born of an American father and a mother that spent considerable time in Nigeria. This unique sound is shown best in the title track, â€œIâ€™m An Africanâ€. Listeners will immediately hear the narrative quality of Janeliaâ€™s vocals, which provide listeners with a story even while an infectious harmony is present. While the African-centric/positive movement in popular music has petered off since the days of Arrested Development and Erykah Badu, Janeliaâ€™s ability to link together pop rhythms with an awakened consciousness builds off the work of these earlier artists.
Uniqueness is the one term that should be linked to Janelia, and this is especially prevalent when one listens to â€œBaba Waâ€. The track uses a spoken word delivery to properly get Janeliaâ€™s ideas across, but the intersection between these words and the instrumentation present provides for an impressive song. â€œJust Kalaâ€ allows the funky, ropy instrumentation that listeners first heard during â€œIâ€™m An Africanâ€ the chance to stand front and center, while Janeliaâ€™s vocals act in a more instrumental way. These vocals, while still providing narrative, further flesh out the arrangements laid down by the traditional instrumentation on the track.
â€œIâ€™m An Africanâ€ has an appeal that is greater than the subset of people that actively search out African music: the experience shared by a number of African nations and Latin American and Caribbean countries ensure some common threads in music from these different regions. For example, the guitar work that is a backbone to many of the tracks on â€œIâ€™m An Africanâ€ has a similar sound to the guitar lines that were created for both ska and reggae music. â€œThis Is The Lifeâ€ is a track that has a sunny disposition, along with an infectious feel that will firmly ensconce itself in the hearts of anyone that has either visited Janeliaâ€™s Myspace or bought this album. I know the release date of â€œIâ€™m An Africanâ€ is still far out, but interested people can check out the aforementioned Myspace or any one of Janeliaâ€™s live dates, which occur at a good clip in the Baltimore, Maryland area.
Top Tracks: Just Kala, This Is The Life