Nigerian, London-based artist Obongjayar has been making some of the most futuristic soul you’ll hear. With the raw tribalism in the Afrobeat drums to the smooth soul in the gorgeous synth and string melodies throughout his music, to his raspy, almost growling voice, his music is as powerful as it is uplifting and spiritual. He has finally released his highly anticipated (at least by me!) debut album titled Some Nights I Dream of Doors, and it is as incredible as I expected it to be, and more!
“Try” kicks the album off with a bang. The beautiful and delicate vocals are complemented by smooth synths and then heavy drums and brass instrumentation. The strong, synth-led melody gives Obongjayar the opportunity to reflect on his life, feeling a sense of gratitude and humbleness to his life and his current situation. He is blessed, and has been brought to this earth to help his family and community strive through art and other opportunities. The dark, pummeling drums and percussion on “Message in a Hammer”, with a more visceral politico-social message talking down at the current Nigerian government, I assume. He will not have his eight to free speech taken away when speaking his own truth. He won’t allow it, and it’s a truly powerful moment on the album. The playful “Parasite” is a slower and moodier track than the previous two, and brings a well needed balance in tempo and mood. The sweet title track is a gorgeous ballad, with Obonjayar singing his heart out. You can feel pain in his voice, but the clarity in it is almost chilling and so beautiful. The intricate drumming on “Wrong for It” featuring Nubya Garcia is exceptional, as Obonjayar gives this triumphant verse on the importance of self-worth and self-value. The second half of that track is one of the most emotive and stunning moments on the album. “Sugar” follows the same tribal drumming, with a more playful and colourful melody. “New Man” brings quite an emphatic energy with it’s pulsating, modern trap-influenced drumming. Again, his message is very direct and angry at the current political institutions that have prevented from his community to thrive, while simultaneously firmly believing that he is in charge of his own destiny. “All the Difference” is another beautiful and warm track, with its synths and uplifting message. “Tinko Tinko (Don’t Play Me for a Fool)” might actually be my favourite track. The Kaytranada inspired groove is so infectious, and the melody just dances off my headphones perfectly. “I Wish It Was Me” is an emotive tribute to his family, and is one of the most gentle and beautiful moments on the album. The defiant message is complemented by his vulnerability, which makes it such a touching record. “Wind Sailor” closes the album out with a gorgeous, piano-ballad. It gives Obongjayar to sing with such profound soul and emotion, and is the perfect way to close this intimate, yet thoroughly engaging and profound album.
Obongjayar’s intimacy and vulnerability shines through on his debut album Some Nights I Dream of Doors, with a soulful and delicate sound that is contrasted by the raw, tribal energy of the drums and rhythms throughout. It’s an exceptional body of work that showcases his versatility as a songwriter and vocalist. The production complements his talents perfect with a vast, cinematic soundscape, as Obongjayar paints his thoughts, vulnlerability, pains with the world. His almost aggressive tone towards the establishment and those in positions of power. Go support Obongjayar’s new album Nights I Dream of Doors!