Femi Temowo – The Music Is the Feeling (2016)

Femi Temowo - The Music Is the Feeling (2016)
Artist: Femi Temowo
Album: The Music Is the Feeling
Genre: Jazz, World Music
Origin: Nigeria
Released: 2016
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps

Tracklist:
01. Ore (feat. Engines Orchestra)
02. Fela on Engu Radio (feat. Engines Orchestra)
03. Eje Ki Se Omi (feat. Engines Orchestra)
04. Sabon Garis (feat. Engines Orchestra)
05. Eye Iwò (feat. Engines Orchestra)
06. Igba Kan Lo (feat. Oli Rockberger)
07. Abeg Jare (feat. Engines Orchestra)
08. Oro Agba (feat. Engines Orchestra)
09. Bola
10. Chinua’s Lament (feat. Engines Orchestra)
11. Least Resistance (feat. Engines Orchestra)

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Guitarist-in-demand Femi Temowo’s long-awaited album ‘The Music is the Feeling’ has been a good while in the making.

The project first came to my attention nearly a year and a half ago when a mutual friend sent a heart-felt plea with a link to Temowo’s crowd-sourcing page. She explained he’d tried to fund his album previously by this method but lost out when the amount fell short of what was required by the deadline. I was a broke student at the time spending much of my hard-earned wage on tuition fees. Still, I didn’t want to deny an artist of their dream. I rather begrudgingly made a donation only to be ticked off when I later discovered that the funding deadline had been extended and there wasn’t such a rush after all.

Why the backstory? Well, several months and PledgeMusic updates later, Femi’s project was ready to hit the shelves. I for one expected, nay, demanded it to be one heck of a record.

With that heightened expectation my first, second and even third impressions of ‘The Music is the Feeling’ weren’t favourable. Too heavy on ambition and cleverness, light on entertainment. Fine as background music but hard to immediately engage. Sure, Femi is a beast on the guitar. You only have to cross-reference the artists who’ve sought his session-work skills to figure that out. But where are the ear-seducing melodies? Besides, there wasn’t enough to Temowo’s voice to excite.

Thankfully, a part of me willed the project’s success enough to persist. Slowly but surely hidden beauty began to surface. True, it doesn’t instantly find that elusive cerebral/accessible equilibrium a la Michael Olatuja’s 2009 gem ‘Speak’ on which good mate Temowo also features. (Olatuja returns the favour on ‘…Feeling’). Yet with time, the record has a slow-burning appeal all of its own. There’s the sparse and haunting ‘Chinua’s Lament’ with its lush string arrangements (courtesy of The Engine Orchestra)-a hallmark of the record; the peculiar but welcome sense of reassurance that takes over during the album’s most serene moments (‘Bola’ ‘Eye Ki Se Omi’ and ‘Least Resistance’); the child-like pleasure of folk-song ‘Igba Kan Lo’ with its protean harmonies.

Much of ‘…Feeling’ is commendably dedicated to Temowo’s mother tongue, Yoruba. Even Paul McCartney’s ‘Blackbird’ (‘Eye Iwo’) gets the South-West Nigeria treatment. The almost obligatory Afro-funk tribute ‘Fela on Enugu Radio’ shouldn’t then come as a great surprise.
by Tolita