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Review: E.L Can Take Off (Again) With “Songs For Girls 3”

With love as its centrepiece, “Songs For Girls” reveals all the musical influences that have defined E.L’s career across the years.

Bumps are inevitable. They often occur on the highway of life when everything is going on as planned. The bumps and the inertia it stirs are mostly wake up calls. They offer a moment for self-introspection, as well as time to reflect on whatever journey one is pursuing. What is most important is one’s reaction after the inertia. Do you allow it to scare and scar you? Do you consider it a propeller to the next phase of your life or career?

Rapper, EL has had his fair share of career bumps which he has managed to navigate, even if there exist some more to steer past. One can not miss his dissociation from former label BBnZ; the countable hits he has scored in recent times despite releasing a cache of work. In addition to these is his handling of the unfair commentary that greeted his “Artiste of The Year” glory in 2016. It’s definitely exhausting dealing with comments that devalues years of work. Despite all these bumps, E.L has kept it going, releasing records including joint albums whiles producing for other artists.

From his Twitter page

“Songs For Girls 3” (SFG 3) is the latest addition to his growing catalogue. As reflected by title, the 7 track EP is filled with love songs coloured in the musical trends that had or continue to define the career of E.L. One, therefore hears elements of hip hop, azonto, afropop and pop/rock on “Songs For Girls.

“Kaba”, the first song on the EP is your typical afrobeat record courtesy its minimal drums, the smooth horns that breathe across the record. Choosing singing over rapping (something he has been doing for the past two years), E.L begs for a girl’s love over this mid-tempo tune: “As a man, I go do yawa/If I go come, ebi woara”, he confesses. “Famam” (which translates from Fante to English as “Give It To Me) adopts contemporary afropop rhythms as a conveyor belt for E.L to pivot his unwavering love to his partner despite external pressures: “Many, many girls dem dey die for your boy/Too many girls wanna slide with your boy/But, no other girl like you baby“.

“Hologram” does not falter from the template of love that defines the EP except for the fact that the record feels off, sonically, from the overall body of work. That’s the pop/rock feel that surrounds “Hologram”, produced by Nel Magnum, breaks the sonic flow of the album. Perhaps, placing it as record number 2, before “Faman” in the sequencing order was a mistake. This, however is not the first time E.L had experimented with pop/rock. On BAR 4, he teamed up with Adomaa on “1212” which also carried pop/rock influence.

The MOG produced “Ogboo” is a celebration of women [sic: his girl] for her independent grind and motherly qualities; a quality he appreciates. Here, E.L blends rap (which he did on two verses) and singing on the song’s hook. If marketed well, this radio song could become a “Mother’s Day” anthem. Like “Ogboo”, the syrup guitar laced, trap tune “Knock” with its moody tone could become a fan favourite. On the song, E.L, like a jealous partner cast doubt over his girl’s true intentions. “When you touch your body and close your eyes in the night, baby do you want me?“, he wonders before quizzing in a voice filled with concealed pain: “Who you fucking?!”. E.L sounds like Drake on this sex-fuelled, bounce heavy record produced by Ebo The Great. “Knock” could pass as part 2 of his earlier hip hop track “Thinkin'”.

“Lonely”, produced by Pee On The Beat follows the defined afropop trajectory. E.L is heard expressing sorrow at the loss or absence of his girl who “promised me, you’ll never leave/Where are you now?”, he croons with the lingering sentiment of loss. Closing the EP is the azonto crafted “Sleepover”. The usually fast-paced rhythms of azonto are replaced with a mid-tempo one. E.L sings in pidgin and Ga, taking you back to early 2011 when he was a major proponent in advancing the genre’s global reach.

“Songs For Girls 3” is a concise yet cohesive body of work nestled in the theme of love. That cohesiveness- theme wise- has been missing in E.L’s recent projects since “BAR 4”. Aside the themes covered, the diverse yet well helmed production is refreshing and commendable. The sonic landscape of “SFG 3” confirms the need for artistes, especially E.L to reach out to producers beyond his orbit in order to stretch his creativity and test his music-making process through idea exchanges and constructive suggestions.

It’s fair to surmise that some of the people who fell in love with E.L circa 2011 to 2016/17 were bemused by the musical direction of LOMI. Their despair was largely based on the fact that the man who was considered the genre shaper (a la Kanyé West) became a follower whose output was mostly unsatisfactory considering his stature (no pun) within the music industry. On his latest tape, it appears that the years of experimenting is paying off: he sounds confident, his singing has also improved (the voice correcting pitch is not excessive and grating on the ear).

EL appears to have found his groove once more. And, should he put some energy behind SFG 3, he would certainly earn the love back from his old fans and cultivate new ones along the way. That notoriety of putting out bodies of work and refusing to promote them efficiently (think ‘LinkOp’ with Ayisi) must not be replicated with this tape. “Songs For Girls 3” could spark a decade long run for Elorm Adablah.

Written by : Swaye Kidd (@Swayekidd)

LISTEN TO SONGS FOR GIRLS 3 ON BOOMPLAY

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