Album Review: Deena Ade Struts, Style, Diversity and Liberalism on The Cries Of My Subconscious
I initially caught wind of her buccaneering honesty on Loose Talk Podcast, where she was guest on a December episode, to promote her Slut Walk. She was so honest, some of her revelations about self had me in a twist. I immediately immersed myself in her art, but it just wouldn’t agree with me.
Time really is a chameleonic dictator of satisfaction that plays wicked games on our minds. Nonetheless, maybe mood and real life situations determine art appreciation as I was in a really phony place in December.
Fast forward June 2018… I’m bumping the shit out of her EP with incredible satisfaction.
Deena Ade is a stylistic moth, but through all the dynamism and constant changes, there is one constant; she wants to live like a modern woman, complete with the freedom to express her inclinations without judgement.
Just as her sounds have different pockets to harbour her creative tendencies, her songs finds different conversations within her overall themes of love, relationship and sex. In that lies her diverse conversations of a sexually liberated woman, gleefully and attractively articulated with her incredible vocal talents.
In a way, shards of her sometimes disintegrated artistry reminds me of acts like Lady Donli, Asikey, Cici, Esperanza Spalding, Shekhinah, Fantasia, Paloma Faith, and Zoolita. She’s that complex, even though she articulates cliché RnB topical conversations which some might deem boring.
Her gimmick lies, aided by her creamy, parts-corduroy, parts-cashmere vocals is that she manages to remain fresh and grounded probably because her stories seem personal, original and real, or maybe I just got played by good vocals. Whatever it is, I enjoyed this work.
Great. Could be arranged in anyway and be good. Testament to the feeling Deena evokes that although different to each other and unique, her songs don’t need extra arrangement to sound good.
The fact that she doesn’t need intricate arrangement goes back to her style and probably, vision. So, I’m in a fix on whether to award her marks for tracklisting. I feel like she’s used her witchy style to defraud me. While I complete this piece, I’ll peruse it.
Although fresh, but it’s Not new or unique for that matter. Acts like Donli, Tomi Owo, Odunsi, Nonso Amadi and so forth have similar sounds, but she found a way to make vintage R&B/Soul sounds feel relatable and not too western.
For her style of music, her quality production is kind of anticipated, and it sometimes make that sound feel safe. Nonetheless, we can’t be too hard on artistes. Their career path is hard enough already, but a bit of uniqueness now and then wouldn’t hurt.
I feel like this entire project offers some speculative insight into Deena’s mind and creative arsenal. The production her triggers in me, an artiste who wants to represent a slight shift away from what suddenly obtains in Nigerian alternative music without sounding amiss. No song better reflects this than Down.
I speculate she wanted to be more R&B/Soul while triggering momentary mellow dance routines, and not just mood music.
For the most part, she pulled it off, but the aura she oozes draws pungent similarities to acts we already know. However, that is not a downside.
In fact, props for the attempt. I have a feeling that her next project will have a clearer representation of her sonic dream. Till then, we wait patiently as I have become a fan.
For now though, that genre of music is popping and Deena rocks it to perfection. The production on Melo really is a beauty. But Let It Go is something I literally play almost daily. It’s got a very simple beat pattern, and therein lies the mystique.
Topical Conversation, Themes and Lyrical Content
At first glance, her album title evokes feelings of inner conflict. Sauntering into her Intro — appealing spoken word by the way; the figurative cannabis reference also got me — she tried to draw a correlation between inner conflict and its toll on her relationship.
At times it seems easy, but the concept and narrative all grew slightly tedious or rather, an afterthought than a precursor to the entire project.
The Segway from the Intro to Melo highlights the witchy tendency I previously talked about, but Melo is about a crush, while the Intro talks about a “lover”. There seems a slight disconnect just betrayed by nuance.
To me it seems Deena completed a handful of songs, but didn’t have a conceptual narrative to serve as cohesive hue and so she tried to swing the closest, most innate topic and it didn’t quite work out.
However, I have a sympathy for her. Us listeners seem to have placed unnecessary premium on concept and cohesive, central narrative for artistes like Deena that it pressurizes them into slightly tedious concepts.
Instead of just listening to and enjoying the music, we expect some faux depth and relatable gibberish from them to satisfy our pretentious vanity.
Lover veers a little closer to the narrative of Melo as she finally grew some balls to pick the poor guy’s call.
The sensitive and equally alluring part of the song is her, someone craving sympathy and attention protecting her lover from her darkness; a perfect depiction of a balanced love affair. From what I’ve heard, love is sacrifice and empathy. Although, I wouldn’t know anything about that.
And suddenly, we were back to the Melo disparity with the central theme on Shere which seemed a tale about a nonchalant lover, either ignorant to what he’s got or simply a terrible goat because I’ve seen what Deena looks like. You gotta be stupid to play on that.
There are no bad songs on this project, Shere was my least favourite. It seems hastily put together or at least, with lesser detail than the other tracks. Even though Let It Go offers similar disparity with the title and central narrative, it is more Lover than Shere.
Independently though, like any other track on the EP, Let It Go is a perfect track. It evokes the raw emotive inclinations of all the classic R&B/Soul songs of the modern era. It articulates a dense story of need, envy, territorialism, betrayal and sometimes touchy elements of a dangerous love affair. Several women are sadly effortlessly in love with unworthy lovers and if anything, it is mad relatable.
The world we live in is sometimes unfair, but we still have to live it.
The EP for me, presents the multiple sides of Deena; the vulnerable girl who just needs to be fed attention she wouldn’t admit; the sassy, sexually liberated girl representing a modern woman; the egoistic woman, brimming with self worth and demanding some respect; and finally, the empathetic lover. There is also the tidal but important bits about mental health.
All those personalities are however built around a loving, loveable girl who just wants what everybody wants; no extra darkness or difficult shade.
Focusing on independent topical conversation on each track and neglecting the central narrative and theme, I felt every track every track perfectly achieved and articulated the objective or their creator.
Maybe the EP would have been better titled Musings of My Subconscious. But as a sidenote and in totally unrelated spheres; the subconscious represents just who we are. Only that sometimes, we have to stay in control of it and not the other way round.
Melo is easily the best track on the album. It’s a pivotal example of that buccaneering honesty of sexual liberation that society needs. Moderation might be a useful tool in this whole business, but permit my counter culture tendencies to run the rule; don’t be with a person who has not expressed his/her hoe tendencies. Trust me.
The track is however not just about the hoe business. It is also about being comfort to an emotionally scarred partner.
Looking forward to her next project for its sonic base. Just make music next time if everything just starts coming together without a central narrative. However, if a real life experience triggers a need for musical expression then create it.
Overall, the EP Is a thoroughly enjoyable listen that triggers appreciation and penmanship. Deena is going to be someone’s songwriter.
Nonetheless, it sometimes felt like a football pitch with bad topography despite being meant for an FA Cup Final to be attended by Theresa May. The topography isn’t outrageous, but it’s bad enough to alter the course of 20 yard through balls.
Songs like Shere and Lover offered something slightly off in the grand scheme, and therein in lies the agonizing thief of perfection.
As I noted earlier, judging the tracks independently, you would seldom find me with any reservations. But then, Deena had offered a title and an Intro that more often than not means a central narrative.
I am only reviewing the piece of work. Thus, I can only judge on the things I observe, one of which is what I deem a flaw even though I wish I could undo it all.
Finally, neglecting all the chatter about narratives and central concepts, Down is just vibes. It’s centred on elements of South African House music, with Kwaito percussion that rumbles gallantly into the high seas of sonic perfection on a Guitar-like Bugatti — if that makes sense.
I pray she shoots a colourful video for it, with a scene where choreography is performed in a kaleidoscope.
Urban Central Eval
Concept, Narrative and Topical Conversations: 2.0
Lyrical Content: 3.8
Replay Value: 3.5
Urban Central Tier 2: #LoudBang
By OneMotolani — PennedMusingsNG for Urban Central @OneMotolani on Twitter
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