Kadija Kamara is an unlikely, fast-rising music star. Having won an MTV Iggy Artist of the Week poll and been featured by fashion house Fendi, the expectation is that she’s just another pop singer, electronic producer, or hip hop artist on the over-saturated top-40 train. She is none of these things. Instead, she’s completely retro, fusing ’60s and ’70s psychedelia with funk, soul, and R&B to form what she calls “alternative soul”.

Her parents greatly influenced her sound, playing Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, The O’Jays, and Michael Jackson. Yet when listening to her new EP, Nothing Left To Lose, other greats come flooding to mind. Yes, “greats” is plural because Kamara’s music cannot be isolated. She’s a chameleon who is constantly changing and showing new colours, and every hue is eye-popping amazing.

On the soulful blues-rocker “Nothing Left To Lose”, Kamara resembles a young Prince. Her soaring falsetto, her gritty guitar riffs, and the encouragement she gives a friend are akin to the Purple One. Psychedelic and funk converge on “Running In The Name Of The Game”. Images of St. Vincent teaming up with T. Rex coming flooding into mind. Never has delirium sounded so funky.

Speaking of which, Kamara amps up the grooves on the head-bobbing and exhilarating “Eyes On You”. The song streams with Michael Jackson’s dance-floor coolness and sister Janet’s smooth and sultry vocal delivery. For good measure, there’s a bit of Sheena Easton with the steely synths that buzzes in the background. If the music wasn’t enough, her story your about a chance meeting between two people will grab your attention. It’s a cat-and-mouse game that is being told, but who catches whom?

To close the record, Kamara slows things down to a near standstill with the delicate and intimate ballad “Like You”. Her voice takes on a diva-esque tone with the lyrics to match. It is warm, sensual, and a little bit spicy, akin to the music with which Natalie Cole once graced us.

For all the legends that Kamara channels in her music, there is no other artist quite like her today. Refreshingly diverse and bold yet familiar and accessible, she has all the makings of a star. Should she achieve the massive breakthrough without compromising her alternative soul and retro roots, she has the chance to walk about the very greats she idolized. Nothing Left To Lose is the start of that journey and an emphatic statement at that.

Nothing Left To Lose is out now, and it can be streamed on Spotify.

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Featured image by Garry Carbon.

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