Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Album Review: Burna Boy - Love, Damini

Burna Boy
Love, Damini
**and1/2 out of *****

From the title on down Burna Boy wants to get personal on his newest release Love, Damini.  Using his given name (Damini Ogulu) is only the first hint as the afro-fusion artist moves on from his previous efforts which tried to take over the world to now scaling back and letting listeners see the real, wounded Mr. Orulu, on the mixed bag, long running effort. 

The South African male choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo bookend the album joining on the opening "Glory" and the closing title track. On "Glory" Ogulu begins the personal pain journey the album will take with the odd couplet, "Like back when my dawg died/Felt my heart split apart like apartheid" one of a few jarring world problems/personal juxtapositions on the album. Another comes at the end of the Khalid accented "Wild Dreams", a gorgeous song which awkwardly ends with the line "Remember, Martin Luther King had a dream and then he got shot" a halting record scratch moment before the complete misstep self help of the guest laden "How Bad Could It Be". 

Outside of these oddities the long album feels tired, exactly as Burna looks on the cover art.  A perfect summation of Love, Damini as a whole is "It's Plenty", a song that seems to scream world beat anthem, but ends up more of a sluggish exhale with Burna never committing to the outro exclamation of "For this life I dey, I want to be celebrated/Don't wanna waste my days/I want to spend them on enjoyment". The low level of energy doesn't work with the joyful lyrics and this lackadaisical malaise drips into the  the album weighing down offerings like "Rollercoaster" which wants to soar but never ignites and the dour "Vanilla" which brings back smooth sax and dance urging afro-beats, yet feels hollow.    

Much better is the ultra smooth "Jagele" which uses killer afrobeat to move and slink around Burna's style while "Cloak & Dagger" is also a standout with guest J Hus delivering engaging verses around killer beats produced by Telz, Danitello, and MdS. The combo joint with Popcaan "Tori-Ann Singh" is a winner but literally ends too soon, as does the infectious "For My Hand" with Ed Sheeran. "Science" enhances the dance beats, interesting guitar lines and excellent vocals from Burna highlight both "Whiskey" and "Solid". 

While far from his best work, Love, Damini has enough interesting beats, lyrics and tunes to keep the head bopping and ear engaged as Burna Boy journeys through his life and many musical worlds. 
Support the artist, buy the album and peep some video below:

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