Sinkane - Mean Love (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
IF YOU’RE looking for a new artist to excite, then look no further than Sinkane (aka Ahmed Gallab).
Combining elements of Curtis Mayfield-inspired falsetto soul with a Pan-African influence of popular Sudanese music and haqibah, as well as distinct horn and synth arrangements more common to East Africa, Mean Love is a distinct listen, but an easily accessible one.
Current single New Name is a classic case in point. A funky offering that unfolds amid the percussion sound of Africa, it blossoms into a giddy fusion of influences that extend to sharp stabs of brass and a snappy chorus that, again, combines the energy of Africa with the easy flow of soul-pop. It’s an uplifting track.
Admittedly, there are times when the African sound is more dominant and the LP assumes a more world music vibe that, perhaps, becomes restrictive (Young Trouble being one point).
But Sinkane is just as able to move completely away from that into other territories. Hence, Galley Boys has a lazy country vibe that’s utterly disarming and a clear album highlight, especially when set against his deliciously soulful delivery.
While Son offers another show-stopping moment courtesy of its honest, heartfelt lyricism (about fathers and sons and the differences that sometimes exist between them), a slightly melancholy electronic sound and a bittersweet soul vibe. It’s arguably the album’s finest moment – a song that makes you reflect and really pay attention to what it has to say. And it drives to the heart of Sinkane’s intelligent songwriting.
From that moment of sobre intensity, however, Sinkane proceeds to enliven the pace for the feel-good album closer, Omdurman, which somehow manages to sound like classic Motown mixed with contemporary Africa. It’s playful, fun and a really stylish closer.
And let’s not forget the title track, Mean Love, which drops one of the most striking falsettos on the LP (a really Mayfield moment) and yet more emotionally powerful vocals. That it does it by also mixing a country twang with a retro soul beat is, again, testament to Sinkane’s ability to continually surprise and be inventive.
Mean Love is a genuinely appealing debut from an artist who looks set to win a lot of fans this year.
Download picks: New Name, Galley Boys, Son, Mean Love, Omdurman