Do you like soul music? Folk music? How about the two together? I recently heard the powerful voice of British Nigerian singer songriter, Lánre who manages to infuse both soul and folk together - if it sounds bizarre, trust me, it works.
Human is the third release from Lánre and is a four track EP detailing the trials and tribulations of what it means to be human. In particular, I felt the title track contained some powerful, inspirational lyrics that describe the process of living and making relationships work. I discussed this with Lánre recently and it turns out that this was exactly her thought process upon writing the song. She said "life's not about getting it right all the time, doing the same things again and again reaffirms that we are human". The song was not written specifically with young women in mind but it seems like the perfect song for young women to listen to and hear that life is not about perfection but about being yourself and enjoying the ups and downs we all go through. The stand out lyric, inspired by Leonard Cohen is
we're all broken so that light can come in
which sums up perfectly what the song is about, accompanied by Lánre's powerful soul voice and folk based instrumentals. Life for young women in the digital age can be tricky to navigate and to me, they would do well to listen to and bear in mind the ideas within Human.
Talking to Lánre, she appears to be a pragmatist as evidenced by the reason to release a second EP rather than a full album; she was collaborating for the first time with new musicians and folk instruments and wasn't sure if the results would warrant committing to a full album. Furthermore, when writing songs that will be played live, she doesn't always have the luxury of a band around her so the songs need to work as solos as well as with a band. She also admits to being a bit of a "control freak" (her words) as she self produces all her music which she also writes. Asked if self producing is a conscious choice, Lánre says that "in time, I don't know what will happen but now it's working for me...I understand what my sound is and it's a better fit at the moment. I've had meetings with record labels but the control freak in me doesn't think it will work". All this was said with much laughter and more than a bit tongue in cheek I suspect.
As always when I interview songwriters, I'm interested to know about that process - what comes first, how do the ideas come? For Lánre, who has always sung, rather than played instruments, the lyrics and the sound pf the vocals come first, followed by guitar chords and the melody before being shared with the musicians she is collaborates with. Describing this process, Lanre again mentions her tendency towards control, "I never played an instrument so I always had to rely on other people for that which brought out more of the control freak".
Although Lánre acknowledges this posed something of a dilemma in her songwriting, she says that it took the sudden death of her father to push her to learn to play her guitar. Her father was a musical person in that he listened to music a lot but never played an instrument and that pushed her to "go out and do what I want. Go for it, never waste time". This pivotal moment in her life also prompted the decision to leave the safety and security of the six piece voice collective, GK Real and turn solo, again "doing what I wanted to do" although she admits it has been hard, "when you're working with a band you have that support system but you have to do everything yourself when you go solo". On the evidence of Human, I'd say it was a pretty good decision.
Human is available now.
This first appeared on www.thoughtsofjustafan.com.