REVIEW: Nakhane sounds sombre on his second album

2018-03-18 00:00
 Nakhane Touré

Johannesburg - The highly praised singer-turned-actor Nakhane is back with his second studio album.

You Will Not Die is mysterious and somewhat sombre, and the Inxeba lead uses his operatic vocal stylings to guide the listener through a soundscape of dark emotion and layered production. Violent Measures is an emotive slow jam with a production that reminds me a bit of Radiohead’s work on In Rainbows and at times the 80s-inspired essence of Depeche Mode.

Clairvoyant is a bit faster in tempo, probably as upbeat as it gets on this record besides the last song, a radio remix of Clairvoyant.

You have to play this album loudly, as the production holds subtle secrets and treasures. A distorted guitar lick teases your ear seemingly at random.

The album has an indie/alternative feel to it, but isn’t too abstract. Nakhane’s lyrics are subtle, barely there, but house emotive themes played out like a melancholy lullaby. Nakhane makes use of a choir in a few of his songs and it complements his operatic delivery, and adds to the feeling of building up towards something. However, that feeling doesn’t subside in a crescendo of weirdly dark music. Instead, it keeps building until the end, which I found to be a let-down.

I particularly felt this on You Will Not Die. The track has a stirring piano at the beginning and Nakhane sneaks the choir in with some cleverly used delay sound effects. Like most of the tracks on the album, it builds and then ends suddenly – you then realise the build-up was the peak. It could’ve used a little bit more tempo and vocal variation. The album tends to be slightly chanty, which I always figured to be a commercial pop trick that lures the listener into singing along and makes the melody stick.

My personal pick is Star Red because it has a bit more variation. Nakhane unleashes his breathy falsetto along with more playful elements. I was expecting more, but most of the music on this album has the same feel. I knew this offering would be above average, so it was just a question of how far above and I think he has more in the tank. I’m all for a common thread pulling a record together, but there is something to be said about changes that keep the listener engaged. It is, however, a unique and stylish offering with sincere subject matter.

Nakhane: You Will Not Die

R89.99 on iTunes

3\5 stars

Album Review
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