“Dashing through the air / Flying to Africa / Got my Ghana, must go / Ready for Naija” announces Gbeke in her new single/video combo “Afro Bells,” her vocal echoing the catharsis of her statement and the spirit of the holiday season quite excellently. “Afro Bells,” whether enjoyed as a music video or simply as the latest song from Gbeke, showcases a Christmas energy from an eclectic pop singer clearly on the verge of greatness. Her execution is seamless, while her attention to detail within the lyricism here is something that will leave her rivals green with envy this December. This release is a home run for its creator and the cult following she’s created for herself in the last year especially.
Every instrument in this song has wonderful tonality. What’s ironic is that, overall, the master mix has a raw, unpolished finish one can assume would bleed into the fabric of the melodies here, but suffice it to say, this isn’t the case at all. The balance of unfiltered mixing and shimmering instrumentation gives “Afro Bells” an overtly pop overtone, though I would still say that it’s as accessible to casual pop fans as it is the diehard indie buffs who live for edgier harmonies. In a nutshell, this is true Christmas crossover pop – impossible to categorize and as true in spirit as they come.
The music video for “Afro Bells” is dreamlike and holiday-themed from beginning to end, but not so much that it feels like a product of the predictable seasonal output we see every year. Despite the popularity of cerebral compositional themes lately, Gbeke makes this release feel original and untethered to the trends that her peers cling to so willingly. She’s interested in creating her own path to the stars, and by skewing the familiar components of her sound with campier influences – as she does here – she can never be accused of producing anything secondhand.
There’s no getting around just how jarring the beats in this song can be if you’re not expecting their uneven pop rigidity. I think that their postmodern style adds to the energy of the lyrics here a lot, and because of the crisp tone of the percussion, they create some urgency on the backend of the track that pushes us into the main hook. Gbeke is making some strange rhythm sound like a million bucks in “Afro Bells,” and that’s something I think she deserves to be lauded for on all fronts in this business.
I admittedly wasn’t following Gbeke as closely as I should have been before “Afro Bells,” but now that I’ve become hypnotized by the harmonies she creates in this song and its captivating music video, I’ll be eagerly awaiting her next release. She’s still got a lot of talent that she hasn’t properly exploited, but with a little more time and development in the studio, she’ll be able to do just about anything she sets her mind to. Gbeke has made a believer in the Christmas spirit out of me, and if allowed to do so this December, I think she will you as well.
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