LANRELánre brings her Nigerian heritage to her chilled acoustic soul

Label:     Independent,
Time:     10 Songs /44 minutes

Accompanied only by a pastoral acoustic guitar, this disc opens with a slight, two-minute song in a Nigerian dialect.  It showcases her sumptuously mellow voice.

But the reverie is broken straightaway, when a full band and a loud “One, two, one, two three and…” kicks off the second track.

This contrast is key to enjoying Lánre’s début solo album. On the first listen, I found myself frustrated by the songwriting, as there are virtually no bridges, choruses or even resolved chord sequences. Tracks like “Inspiration” and “Love Way” seem to drift along on just a couple of chords. However, listening with ears happy to enjoy the ambience of her sound makes a real difference.

Some songs do work in the traditional way. The hook line in “Beautiful,” a song of self-assurance, works to anchor the tune and the bereavement song that closes the collection lingers after the machine has stopped playing.

Songs deal with identity, value, healing the past and finding God. Lánre considers herself to be a storyteller, and if these are not autobiographical songs, then she has done that convincingly.

The backing is suitably light – a sprinkling of piano here, a discreet guitar there – and sometimes picks up African or summery jazz overtones. Mercy Adjepong’s vocal backing is well-judged, filling in enough to complement Lánre’s lead.

While her fledgling songwriting does not do justice to the beauty of her voice, the mood it creates makes it feel refreshingly honest and different.


Derek Walker