July 21, 2024

Deep-rooted in her African culture, Emotan is an eclectic artist from Nigeria who creates timeless music. The proof is in the re-release of 1994 album “Ameh”. This is an album that rewards patience and time, because underneath the smooth exteriors lies a batch of songs that are surprisingly loose and free. Emotan instantly shows her ambition and the scope of her imagination, traversing several emotions, sometimes in a single song. Her music occupies rarified air between Soul, R&B and Jazz inflections. The songs are like rays of sunlight shining through a dusty room. Delightfully pretty in their own right, they manage to make important statements about relationships with a constant calm and without shaking fists in the air. Emotan forges works of chill and groove which won’t leave listeners untouched.

Despite its short length of only 4 tracks, the album has clarity of vision, and remains focused to it throughout the record, creating an enjoyable and engaging listen from beginning to end. Emotan skillfully delivers all she offers in the record, and the tiny unfilled spaces show that she has even more inside her.

Throughout the record, Emotan stays away from melodrama. She doesn’t need big choruses, or ridiculously catchy hooks, because her tracks, from start to finish, exude an incredible sense of melody.

The opening track, “Let Me Seduce You” snuck up on me, unassuming and beautiful, assaulting my ears with a funky beat and sweet goodness from the very beginning. Emotan retains the personality of her songs, never adding misplaced vocal acrobatics, but nonetheless challenges her abilities on the slower “Broken-Hearted World” which weaves an exceptionally smooth and well-integrated low register as well as a refined falsetto into the song.

The most impressive aspect of “Ameh” is its originality. The record takes the best from the nineties, and even earlier eras, and makes those sounds its own. Emotan has created an independent and unique artistic space, which separates her from the flashy artists of time, as well as those currently dominating the radio. She shows power in minimalism.

Unlike the new breed of R&B or Soul singers, Emotan delivered excellently balanced tracks, leaving the gimmicks out, and instead focusing solely on instrumentation, lyrics, and vocals; and none of them outshine each other. They all work in harmony, enabling each track to find its sweet spot.

The album also stands out because of its consistency and versatility. None of the songs are weak and each improves with every listen. Furthermore, the record suits many situations; from a night-time walk, to a reflective lie-down, to a slow dance at three in the morning. It’s well-constructed and more importantly heartfelt.

Fall under the spell of the rhythmic “How Good (U Bin 2 Me)”, or nod your head to smooth chill of “You” which features sultry saxophone interludes. I feel that the production and Emotan’s voice, which is expressive and strong without being overpowering, blend well with the presentation of the ideas found in the lyrics, giving the album consistency and unity. The result is that classic timelessness mentioned right at the beginning – meaning this album absolutely stands the test of time.


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