21 Feb Review – Red Velvet by Waje
It’s been a very long time since I’ve heard Waje’s voice. I think back to the last time I heard her voice and all I can remember is her wonderful collab with M.I on One Naira all the way back in 2010… that can’t be right, right?
I stumbled upon her new release sometime near the end of last year but didn’t listen to it for a while. A few days ago, I finally hit play on the album and by the end of it, I was full of regret on having deprived myself of such an outstanding experience for that long.
The album opens with The Truth, an RnB offering that instantly sets the tone of the project. Waje has never sounded better. The full range of her voice is on display, soaring over a bass guitar you can melt into, and rich background vocals that had me swaying like peak Boys II Men. The bridge comes with a power and energy that cements this song on my all-time RnB list.
Why, the second track feels like a beautiful ballad from the get-go. Waje’s voice and storytelling writing strings you along with ease. Talking drums usher in Adekunle Gold who delivers masterfully, as usual, reminding me how beautiful Yoruba sounds when sung. And then you get their voices in harmony which is just blissful.
The third song didn’t go down so smoothly. Stupid opens with Waje rapping, and while it does get slightly better as she goes, I would have much preferred a feature from a female rapper. Then the power pop core of the song leads into a hook that overstays it’s welcome for me. However, a bright spot on the song for me was the vocal mix and effects, especially near the end. Sadly, I think this song detracts from the mood of the album.
Things pick up on the fourth song, Udue. The instrumentation is heartfelt, with horns and drums that drive the bop. The backing vocalists return and steal my heart away. Johnny Drille’s voice creeps in amongst them and nestles right into the song. The chorus is glorious. I was a bit sad that I had to wait so long for Johnny to get the spotlight but he makes gold with the little time he’s given.
I can’t imagine anyone not making it official with Waje after Oh My. The numerous guitars and soft drums blend together with Waje’s voice (yes, I’ll keep mentioning it) to create a beautiful melodious wave that keeps your ears hooked. She adds this little scat near the end that I find delightful for some reason.
Soldier begins with a muted trumpet that gives me noir jazz club vibes. The percussion imbues the song with an energy I didn’t expect. I wished the chorus was bigger instrumentally. However, I do also like that the instruments give her sonic space to flex. This song is a slight change in direction that freshens the album’s formula.
The eighth song Cam Dan sees Waje’s voice (yes, again) bathed in reverb and I love it. The song takes me back to that old school RnB ballad style and everything works for me, from the smooth backing vocals (also, again), to the horns, bass guitars and little breaks in the chorus. Cam Dan is aptly calming.
Be Mine lets you know early that it won’t be as soft as many of the other songs. It takes on this dance aesthetic with breaks, builds, and drops. The driving beat pulses under the mantra-like lyrics of the song and the melodies are the glue that holds it all together.
The Spellz-produced track, Got Sauce, is next and it brings that afrobeat energy with the drums but Waje’s voice still glides over it all. The hook is saucy and makes it hard not to move. Also, love the glitch effects thrown on her voice near the end; it’s a variation that keeps the ear interested.
The final song, Got Ya Back, ends the album as softly as it began. We need Waje writing and performing music for movies because the emotion and sound she displays here would be at home on film. Especially when it picks up in the chorus. Under the right conditions, this song could easily move someone to tears. The instrumentation is rich and warm, while Waje soars and swoops around it. Once again, the backing vocals weave magnificently under it all, rounding the album out elegantly.
Overall, this is one of my most enjoyed albums in a while. Apart from Stupid, which I could have done without, the album drivers on every front. The instrumentation, writing, emotion, delivery, and vocals. The RnB sensibilities are pure and take me back in time. The arrangements and features add diversity. I want to find out who all the backing vocalists were and give them awards because they were extremely influential in the feel of the album.
TL;DR Red Velvet contains velvety slow dance jams, intimate bedroom sounds, heartfelt wedding playlist staples, soothing heartbreak songs. In my opinion, it is a wonderfully complete RnB album with contemporary and Afro influences.
I’ll give it a 9/10 (Stupid couldn’t hold it back too much)