London-based singer/songwriter and rapper Somasu breaks through stereotypical electro, offering undercurrents of soul that provide depth and maturity. Although his work could hit the dancefloor hard, it is also infinitely listenable, proving that – in the right hands – the genre is a solid vessel for melodic communication. His second album – a five-track EP, From The Water – glimpses the breadth of influences that inhabit Somasu’s work. Exploring a theme of isolation and redemption, there is an honesty to his music, which, whether personal or reflective, will resonate with anyone who has battled with their demons.
Even if you’re not usually drawn to electro, opening track “Everybody Loves You” has enough soul in the vocal to keep you listening. Offering a mellow, yearning hook-line over complex and compelling arrangements, this is a song that stays in the mind long after the outro.
Blending dance with dream-pop, “Permutations” speaks of hardships on the road to redemption. There’s desire and dysfunction in equal measures, repaying multiple replays to get to the heart of the message. Luckily, Somasu provides the lyrics in the notes to his Soundcloud uploads, giving the opportunity to enjoy the poetry alongside the music.
Raising the tempo, “Gabi” continues the theme of redemption into relationships. Who (or what) is Gabi? Whether a person or a product, we may not know, but if music reflects reality, their revelation is immortalised in a deliciously dreamy lyric dripped over smoothly engaging vibes.
The tension between temptation and redemption sits at the heart of “You Want Help”. Bringing soul to the fore, whilst honouring his rap credentials, Somasu provides a melodic exploration of emotions often hidden from view. There is room for interpretation in the clever use of the everyday, which once again marks out the contemporary poetry at the core of the song.
Urging us towards the end of the collection, “Still” brings a more traditional hip-hop sound while delivering an authentic sting of urban pain:
“I am all the things you migrate
I know the things you stagnate
I wrote the book you narrate – ah
We will burn your house, mate
Just don’t forget the floodgates, yah”
before sliding into the effortless hookline “On this broken glass I lay..Run this block, I run this block, I…”
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