A review by Dibussi Tande
Label: Stevens Music Entertainment
Genres: World, Afro-Soul, Reggae
Released: November 2014
Available on: iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play
In an era where anyone with a catchy hook and access to a voice processor can be promoted as the next big recording artist by a horde of eager promoters and fawning supporters, buying into the social media hype and hysteria surrounding the pre-release of new songs and albums is generally a recipe for disappointment. The budding Cameroonian urban music scene, for example, is replete with a dizzying number of songs and artists who promised more than they delivered and then faded into oblivion - or stubbornly stayed around to the dismay of the listening public. Once in a while, however, an artist comes along who actually lives up to the hype.
Daphne’s recently released EP, Reflection, consists of four songs that range from R&B to Afro-pop and Reggae. The EP opens up with Reflection, a soft but danceable urban track with an upbeat tempo which will easily find a spot on the playlist of any urban radio station in the US. Those who assumed that Daphne was a Reggae artist after the release of her first single would be pleasantly surprised to discover this other side of her.
Broken, the second track from the EP, starts off as a powerful Makossa “blues” number but quickly switches gears just when the listener is about to be swept away onto the banks of the river Wouri. Though abrupt, this transition is not jarring as the song seamlessly glides into a soothing R&B/pop beat thanks to a reassuring and sultry voice backed by a tearful acoustic guitar which is ever present but nevr overwhelming – a beautiful ode to heartbreak and to the broken heart...
Reflection may be the title song but Ndolo, an Afro-Soul number, which expertly merges a distinct African beat with soul, is fast becoming a fan favorite. It is in this mélange of genres - where the motherland meets the otherland - that Daphne seems to shine brightest, and where she seems most at ease – a possible indicator of the direction that her career might eventually take... In fact, this track could very well have been written for or by Zahara, the South African recording artist whose two breakthrough albums, Loliwe and Phendula, have made her the undisputed queen of Afro-soul.
Rastafari, the last song on the EP, proves if need be, that Daphne is a versatile artist who is comfortable with virtually any genre of music. Rastafari is pure and unadulterated Roots Reggae, Daphne’s tip of the hat to the golden era of Peter Tosh, Burning Spear, The Wailers etc. which preceded Dancehall and its derivations such as Ragga. Released as a single in July 2014, Rastafari led many to assume that Daphne was a “Rastafari singer” which obviously is not the case.
Reflection is an auditory delight delivered by an artist who effortlessly caresses each tune with a voice full of contagious youthful exuberance even when singing about heartbreak. With this EP, Daphne has shown that she has the potential to become a musical powerhouse in Cameroon and beyond. Before then, however, she and her producers may have to decide what type of artist she’s going to be in the long run; a Reggae, R&B, Afro-Soul artist? Or maybe she is one of those artists who refuse to be pigeonholed into a specific genre, and are at their best when experimenting with new sounds and pushing boundaries... Either way, I foresee a successful career ahead. Looking forward to the full length album!