REVIEW: Despite Donning Many Hats, Dunnie’s Artistry Shines Through On ‘SEVEN The EP’

Posted on July 17 2018 , at 06:12 pm
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During the sixth edition of Nigerian Entertainment Conference; alternative singer and songwriter, Simi, expressed her discontent with being called an alternative singer. “Alternative to what?” she asked, “why can’t we be the main thing?”

READ ALSO: Some tracks are forgettable but ‘Simisola’ did not disappoint

While Simi’s feelings about the alternative music genre in Nigeria are valid, the alternative music scene still has quite a mile to walk before they can become the ‘main thing’. There’s no denying that the current faces of alternative music scene like Ric Hassani, Simi, Johnny Drille, Aramide, Brymo and Adekunle Gold have gone above and beyond to bring the genre to the forefront. More names, however, will be needed before Simi’s ‘main thing’ goal can become a reality. With the release of her debut E.P., ‘Seven’, Dunnie has shown that she just might be the name the scene has been waiting for.

READ THIS: Opinion: Why Ric Hassani and Simi Are Not Alternative Artistes

In this world of streaming numbers and ‘Skip Ad’ videos, Dunnie deserves points for opting for an E.P. instead of a full length album as her introductory project. The aptly named body of work features seven songs and was released on 07/07/2018. Dunnie’s ‘Seven’ is an ambitious twenty three minutes, where she puts her twist on a number of sonic styles. Not many artistes are victorious when they decide to take on the herculean task of handling their own production, but Dunni’s mastery of her craft proves to be the knight in shining armour that the project needed.

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The album begins with the piano driven ballad, ‘Sunmobi,’, which is reminiscent of the opening track of Simi’s ‘Simisola’. What stands out about Dunnie’s album starter, however, is the eclectic tone of her voice. It doesn’t do more than it is supposed to do but it soars right above the seamlessly crafted melody of the song.

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Thematically, the E.P. in general does not explore any particularly new grounds and as a direct consequence leave some of the tracks sounding like just ‘another good alternative song’. The ‘old ASA’ reminiscent ‘Smile’ and ‘Deep Love’ are the two biggest culprits of this crime. They are not bad songs by any measure but something about their melodies and lovey dovey lyrics sound all too familiar.

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Fiokee and Ric Hassani are the only two features on the album but each guy delivered. ‘Tell Me’ could easily have been a deep album cut on Hassani’s debut ‘The African Gentleman’.  Although he only has one verse on the song along with a couple of high pitched riffs, his presence is felt heavily throughout the song. Fiokee’s guitar solo on ‘Deep Love’ is unsurprisingly delightful and gives the song some much needed colour.

FOR YOU: Review: Despite saying same thing with different melodies, Ric Hassani’s voice is the real star of ‘The African Gentleman’

Coming in second place as the catchiest and most radio ready track on the album is ‘Simpulu’. From the Pon Pon groove to the earworm chorus, ‘Simpulu’ is a jam that Mr. Eazi himself would approve of. There’s something about the texture of her voice coupled with the groove of the song that makes for one of the more memorable and magical moments on the album.

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Arguably the coolest song on the album, ‘Gbemiloke’ drops us off right in front of the house where the party is. ‘Gbemiloke’ sounds like an hybrid of a Wande Coal song that was produced by Seun Kuti; it’ll get you dancing but more importantly, it’ll have you vibing. Interestingly, both ‘Simpulu’ and ‘Gbemiloke’ were co-written by Ephraem. Hopefully Dunnie doesn’t see this as a coincidence and writes more jams with her song pal.

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At the end of the day, the true champion of this project is the slick duo of Dunnie’s songwriting and production skills. Her vocal delivery is smooth in its own right and seemingly intentionally void of any vocal acrobatics. This could sometimes makes for a stodgy listen but right before it does,her Easter egg filled production, easy breezy lyrics and tailored melodies swoop in to save the day.

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Dunni wore a lot of hats for this record; whether it was producing and writing or incorporating signature elements from practically all her alternative contemporaries. The result of this adventurous potion was saved from being an overly ambitious mess by Dunnie’s minimalist but masterful, approach to song making. All seven songs are without a doubt solid tunes (some more than others), but the songs where Dunni truly shone were the ones where she didn’t sound ‘alternative’. As she continues to hone her sound and make her mark, one can only hope that Dunnie begins to see herself not just as another alternative act, but the next ‘main thing’.

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