Album: Well seasoned 2: A Kenyan Christmas
Artist: Various (Produced by Victor Seii)
Label: Complete Africa
Reviewer: Dr Wandia Njoya
So I'm reviewing a Christmas album in July. Here goes.
How it got on my CD rack
I was listening to the radio to one of my favorite poets and radio hosts, David Black Skillz, one afternoon a few days before Christmas. And he played one of the tracks "In excelsis deo." I made sure I had a copy of the album the very next day.
What I love about the album
"In excelsis deo," like everybody else. I can't get enough of it. I've been playing it even after Christmas is over. The song is perfect on every front. When I knew that Victor Seii was the producer, I appreciated more the bass harmony that was very well done. Kenyan albums are not very good at making the bass an instrument on its own right. Kavutha, who duets with Dan Aceda, is to die for or this track. So is the Luo folk song climax. I would say the same for the track "Shangwe to the world," which has a catchy refrain, and when the Luo song "Niwara nono" comes in...my oh my, as Jeff Koinange would say.
I also like the beautiful track "What child is this," done by Sauti Sol, my not so secret indulgence. The harmonies are beautiful and the song showcases the voices and smooth style that keeps me glued this great group, risquee video or not.
The Kenyan National Anthem with David Nntare and Nanjira Sambili is a fitting opening of the album.
This is a very creative album that well integrates traditional Kenyan sounds with modern vibes. The solos by an array of singers, from Wendy Kimani to Atemi Oyungu and Emmy Kosgey, the background vocals and harmonies are superbly done. When I finished listening through the entire album for the first time, I said to myself: Victor Seii is our own Quincy Jones. Or Babyface. Or whichever producer you know brings out the best in several well-known singers of different backgrounds.
Hmmm, I wasn't too sure about...
Mary's boy child. I felt that Emmy Kosgey's part in the duet could have had more presence in the song. I definitely didn't get "Hark the herald angels sing." I felt it should have gone full out hip hop with a more serious rap section and probably less singing. Every time I listen to it I wonder whether Kenyan producers may be having trouble nailing the formula of having an all star cast doing a song together. It reminds me of the song during the promulgation.
The album jacket has great photography but which can't be clearly seen due to the poor quality of printing. I guess cost was a big concern.
And the album is too short. Eight tracks only.
My wishlist for Well Seasoned 3
Some more acapella, by 5 Alive reunited, perhaps? And maybe Chris Bitok doing the sax, rather than just vocals.
I can hardly wait to...
Get myself a copy of Well Seasoned 1.