Simisola, the second studio album from pop chanteuse, Simi, and first with her present X3M music management is a delightful, carefully processed record that serves as the perfect showcase for the singer’s impeccable vocals and impressive songwriting.
On stage, Simi may come across as awkward and painfully shy. She may constantly draw the ire of the fashion police with her left of field fashion choices, but in the studio as Simisola demonstrates, she is in charge and as close to a superwoman as one can expect.
Which is not to say that she isn’t human. There is plenty of that on offer. The opening salvo, Remind Me is a call for self-reflection that takes its source from the spiritual element. The piano chords come first, and then Simi’s syrupy sweet voice layers itself like water for chocolate. She laments the ways in which human beings seem to have forgotten how to love one another unconditionally and calls for a refocus of priorities.
This is immediately followed by the groovy highlife guitar strings of Joromi. Simi makes the subtlest of nods to Sir Victor Uwaifo before reclaiming the title as a subtle feminist manifesto. Joromi is the name of the slow coach of a guy whom Simi has mad love for and she isn’t afraid to shoot her shot. So Joro baby take my number/You know you can call me later/Me I want to be your lover/So baby call me later, she demands unabashedly in the chorus before closing with a melodious guitar riff. It is a breezy confection of a song that is matched decidedly by other gems on the record.
The first half of Simisola plays like a dream with each track delivering the aural goods. From Sir Uwaifo to Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey, Simi’s influences are rich and textured. Aimasiko is a highlife tune of submission to the will of good that latches on to your memory and never quite leaves till you have memorized every line and every drum lick.
Complete Me and Gone for Good are perfect showcases for Simi’s leisurely drawl. While the former can be grouped in the category of silly love songs, the latter is definitely another sad but triumphant love song. Both are terrific. Original Baby is a kiss off to the Internet dissenters who do not quite understand why Simi isn’t packaged as the perfect pop kitten. She recognizes her clumsiness and awkwardness and advocates being comfortable in one’s own skin.
The middle of the record sags a bit with the double bill of One Kain, a clumsy take on teenage infatuation and the supper sappy goo of Take Me Back, the mandatory duet with her romantic and creative partner, Adekunle Gold.
Things pick up again with the highlife swirl of O wa n’be in which Simi sends up Yoruba party culture and casts herself as the ultimate party animal. Angelina is Simi’s own Jolene, only reimagined as a light reggae lilt, but our girl isn’t as powerless as the narrator in Dolly Parton’s classic. Simi asserts herself and makes it quite clear she isn’t standing for any more of that nonsense.
The last act of the record consists of previously released gems, Smile for Me, Love Don’t Careand the underappreciated Tiff.
It isn’t every time that a pop record arrives that is accessible, enjoyable and exquisitely packaged as Simisola. The songwriting, mixing, production, vocals, everything adds up to a complete whole. Simi is clearly the real deal. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Album Name: Simisola