Falana’s ‘To Bernard’ is seriously slept on

Any way you slice it, the Nigerian music lover has been taken for granted. We’re not sure when, but Nigerian music became synonymous with upper middle class male with ghetto affectations and an obsession with grandiose displays of wealth.

With each new wave of Afropop artists, we are forced to lower our expectations for original music, excellent stage craft, intelligent composition and thought out lyrics. We dance along to a conveyor belt of interchangeable clones, all aping each other’s sounds and hoping to cash in before they burn out or fall off. It is unsurprising then that the Renaissance challenging this status quo is  led almost entirely by women.

Falana has been bubbling in the underground, part of the surge of new contemporary Nigerian troubadours, women with drums and guitars and voices like that lance through all the bullshit and rhetoric about what the Nigerian wants to ‘listen’ to, connecting on a primal level. It’s a breath of fresh air to see them take to a microphone without a backing track and sound exactly like they do on their records, to see them show mastery over musical instruments, work a crowd with ease. And Falana does it with the best of them.

Her instrument of choice is the cajón, her legs framing the wooden box as she raps out a beat. But in the video for To Bernardone of the singles off her EP Things Fall Together, she lets her voice do all the work.

A torch song  that is sonically somewhere between India Arie and Norah Jones, the rattle of the cajón provides a pulse on which Falana laments about a great love that she’s let slip.  Licks of a Spanish guitar chase her adlibs about Karmic consequences and time machines, emphasizing the urgency of her words. Her great love is gone, and time has all but run out for her to fix things. She sings, staring coyly at you as you watch her, turning away  slowly as the song ends, a riff leading her out.

Her best intentions are futile, the past is done.

Everything about this song is great, everything. I don’t know how you aren’t shouting it’s praise on the rooftops. I’ll assume you probably didn’t know it existed, and this post has changed that. So do the needful and share.

 

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