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Femi – From Indiana With Love

Based out of the Washington D.C. area and a member of the musical collective Indiana Jonesin, Femi is a Nigerian American singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with an impressive command of many different musical styles. His soon to be released second full length album From Indiana With Love is an eight song collection mixing original material with reinventions of well known material from other performers. His band mates from the aforementioned Indiana Jonesin make appearances on both the opener and closer while numerous other guest artists assist him in realizing the potential of other tracks. It is obvious after even a single listen Femi has devoted himself to music from an early age and it results in a performer who doesn’t sound like a newcomer to the music world at all but, instead, a seasoned musician and writer possessing rare vision and talent in equal measure.

It opens in a powerhouse way. He tackles the iconic Bill Withers cut “Ain’t No Sunshine”, covered by many artists since the original’s release, but Femi carves out a place for himself in the song’s long lineage thanks to relentless energy and creativity alike. This is a cover that’s never content aping the original – instead, Femi reshapes the song into various guises as it moves from an acoustic beginning into a dynamic rock influenced second half and even lays some hip hop into his reimagining of the song before it concludes on a fiery note. His blending of inspired vocals and biting lead guitar near the track’s conclusion puts an emphatic exclamation point on the recording.

The album’s second track “Slowly” finds Femi working in full on hip hop mode and contrasting it with guest vocalist Shatericka Truman’s soulful voice. Femi is an adept rapper and takes care to convey the words in such a way you catch each one rather than streaking past listeners in a rhythmic blur. The stylish jazz-tinged musical arrangement has a light bounce that makes it ideal for both performers. It is one of the album’s stronger original tunes. “Space for My Guitar” is another impressive original – Femi embraces blues with this track and produces results far greater than mere pastiche. It begins on an acoustic note before transforming into a more blues rock mold as the song progresses and it never loses its spirit despite that transformation. He seizes many common tropes from the genre but reinvigorates them elevating them above rank imitation.

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“Easy” has a strong guitar presence, but it cannot be labeled rock – instead, it has a jazzy lilt Femi sustains for the entire song and his duet with guest singer Vanessa Wills strikes a soulful note never risking overwrought histrionics. Femi continues experimenting mixing hip hop passages with R&B and jazz influences with great success and the lyrical content is far above average. Indiana Jonesin returns for the album finale “Senorita” and it opens with simmering energy while Femi lays down another compelling hip hop vocal over the top. He transitions into full on singing deeper into the song and the band builds the musical arrangement with a sharp ear for dynamics. It is easy to hear why Femi chose to end the album with this track and its potent lyrics end the release with impassioned style.

Mindy McCall

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