Five years after her self-titled and critically acclaimed debut, Words Aren’t Just Enough, Waje, whose stage moniker is styled after that acronym, hits us with her long-waited sophomore album called Red Velvet.
With 10 songs lasting 42 minutes, it is lean and business-like and Waje appears on the cover art as a sultry diva partly immersed in water, hair piled on itself, body curves shimmering.
Seeking the assistance of two male vocalists–Adekunle Gold on Why and Johnny Drille on Udue respectively—as her sole vocal accompaniments on the album, she stands by herself almost throughout the album which riff on the theme of love and its ramifications.
There is no eponymous song called Red Velvet. The album title is an innovation or invocation all by itself, although commonplace. But love is that too, something special and universal, even if it is not as delicate and dainty as the term Red Velvet suggests.
Expect strong vocal performances and subtle delivery from the songstress, Waje, who has deliberately courted the road less travelled. She has chosen to sing from her soul, unperturbed by the maddening crowd of popular appeal. To this end, her songs on Red Velvet differ from her debut Words Arent Just Enough. Red Velvet does not now to any anxieties about what is popular. Here she is deliberately and remarkably different, courting the sound that has archived the subtleties of love for centuries on end.
Somewhere between gospel and blues, she finds that soothing low to mid-tempo vibe to which she lends her voice and its incarnations of melisma, adlib and soul-stirring octaves. Her song-writing leans into contemporary realities.
Here are love songs that speak to our mundane Nigerian experiences as lovers; ever so often, her songs come alive in our local languages including pidgin English.
Stories abound. Because this is what imbues our love with context. On ‘Why’, a lover begs an estranged lover after an altercation while on ‘Stupid’, a lover rains abuses in well-paced bars of rap before declaring she is not stupid in love.
‘Udue’ is a gem of a love song, blithering with guitar strings and horn riffs, easily one of her best. ‘Cam Dan’ situates that crucial point in relationships when lovers need a breather, ironically with impeccably measured horns. The Spellz produced ‘Got Sauce’ is the closest we get to a dance song, shuffling in that realm where dancehall meets love. It is girl meet boy all over again, its ambience of dance and insouciance notwithstanding, it is not clear though whether this instant magic of sexual chemistry will outlast a night.
Waje’s Red Velvet comes after a long wait, but comes correct, making the wait worth the while. She brings competent song-writing to top-notch musical arrangements on her concept album themed on love.
This is a tour-de-force sitting comfortably among modern classic albums like Omawumi’s Timeless, Aramide’s Suitcase and Jodie’s African Woman.
The album bears the closest resemblance to African Woman, although it will definitely outlast it for its impeccable production, posturing and timing.
Red Velvet will be your Saturday morning, lazing in bed best listen in 2019.
Happy New Year!