“For Broken Ears” – EP Review.
Oblige me to ask a rhetorical question. What elements make up a good album? You will have a chance to make your summation in a while but I’ll let you in on my own personal parameters. They are; detail, consistency, expression, veracity, depth and an uncanny ability to keep the song writing sublimely vague. From presentation of the album cover art to the title of each song, you can deduce you are going to be in for an experience more often than not.
Enter the world of TÉMS (Temilade Openiyi) and split open the curtains into a colourful world of beautiful musical boldness. Subconsciously, she has put almost every foot right In the crafting of this artistic self-produced effort, and has been able to break away from the monotony of the cacophonic madness that we have had to endure. To briefly articulate this point, she has abruptly kept the full focus on the music and has chosen to turn down the superficially vulgar and overtly sensual route that obtains these days.
The album opens with a minimalistic piano chord driven effort titled ‘INTERFERENCE’. The sweet union of her voice, the lyrics and the chords just makes you want to listen and visualise what obtains in her soul. There’s a tinge of pain and a lot of soul in the way she expresses her message, and as far as the lyrics go, there’s an unwavering focus and a universal appeal to the social evolution we are experiencing as a species as regards gender relations and the universal love language (a place with no shame/this is a mind with no frame /this is a light with no dark/ this is the truth with no fault) .
Then on comes the subtle RnB super cut titled ‘ICE T’, vocally crisp with a neo-psychadelic ambiance, she takes no prisoners with yet another above par lyrical display. She wittily carves out a metaphoric beauty with the cliché “when life gives you lemons make lemonade.”
The opening loop on “FREE MIND” seems a bit of a draw back for me. One of the very few by the way.
In music, a great first impression can never be overemphasized and it would have been a bit clever if she would have chosen to use a session vocalist comfortable enough on the supposed octave to deliver something deft instead of the shrill. Asides that, the sound is still a fixated construct that flows from the previous rendition like two stringed paragraphs. She still employs the same minimalistic approach with the kick and snare driving the soft rhythm and the simple piano chords buttressing her vocals and accentuating her simple message of a young soul searching for answers in a convoluted world.
“All these thoughts have troubled me/fighting to give up my pain/fighting to be on my lane/my mind running to the other side”See Also
It is followed by the short interlude “TEMILADE”, a rendition of the power of the divine feminine and the intuitive power of a mother’s love and the strong African belief in predestination. The beauty of the next offering ‘HIGHER’ is in the employment of the 3/4 timing (waltz timing) to create something very uncommon and yet ingeniously fresh. This and a bit more all point to the fact earlier stated that she knows what she is doing on a higher subconscious level.
DAMAGES Is one of the best offerings by Téms, a master class in synchronisation, she paints a somewhat naive picture of the conflicts ever present in mechanics of young love. The album ends on an inspiring note with the ‘THE KEY’, with a message of pure bravado and a kin knowledge of self, she gives out a feeling of looking at the world from the top of the hill, embodying the pains of the past and leading her fans alike into a future of hope. It is a pure lesson in resilience.
Above all, we can only leave a lot in the hands of time, time will determine the thin line between consistency and monotony. We also wait to see if she can uphold a strong character and keep her raw essense and not buckle under pressure to the whims of the very fickle Nigerian music industry, with this impression, all I can say is – to borrow a line from Jay z, “everyday a star is born.”
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Ogechukwu Oluwaseun Anyanwu is head of Rapid fire integrated, he is a seasoned music business entrepreneur, A&R administrator, song writer, music critic, journalist (Nigerian institute of journalism) and graphic designer. A former rugby player (young lions rfc lagos) and a boxing enthusiast, and crazy Liverpool fan.