What has Somi been up to? Now that is a question and a half.
Short answer: working on her new album. To be honest apart from an odd gig or two and earwoms like her fine fine song ‘Ginger Me Slowly’ returning every so often out of nowhere I haven't thought much about the singer since 2014 when Lagos Music Salon was released (see interview here). Until now that is with a little time spent listening to Petite Afrique released I think this coming Friday. Listen above to a track, a quizzical gently probing look at often absurdly fickle racial perception one-upmanship called ‘Black Enough’.
Don’t let the rather po-faced label description of the album as a “song cycle”, which makes me think of sombre lieder, put you off as it sounds pretty poppy and upbeat instead. That quality has always been part of her appeal, with Afrobeat, a big dash of social consciousness slipped in for even greater effect rather than worthy empty display, and loads of modern jazz with the emphasis on dance-like pulsating Afro rhythms taking the slack behind her strong persuasive beyond genre voice.
A homage to New York’s 116th St neighbourhood dubbed Little Africa in Harlem first listens suggest an infectious blend as per the African American’s own individual recipe, Somi teaming up as she did before with co-producer Keith Witty. Her bandmates this time around include Liberty Ellman, ex Soweto-Kinch bandmate bass guitarist Michael Olatuja and drummer extraordinaire Nate Smith. SG.
Hear Somi at the Pizza Express Jazz Club in London on 11 April. Tickets