There’s no skipping this one. You can set this five-track Album to random order and it won’t change its feel. Ticket to Anywhere was released in March 2020 by April Maey. Similar to April, her music blossoms like daffodils in springtime. The dreamy character of her voice over jazzy Lo-fi beats installs a calming musical environment. The production is crisp on many levels. From the use of silence, distortion as well as the depth of backup vocals, without dampening output. The piano melodies are captivating in their simplicity. They feel familiar and new at the same time.
The track Sunshine particularly resonated with me. It brought to mind scenes out of a Woody Allen film. I pictured myself kissing the girl of my dreams on a rainy day in Paris, at midnight. April manages to invoke this intense feeling of love. She conveys these visuals by her confident delivery and hypnotic vocals. At its purest, love is such a powerful drug that it could overpower a fear of death. In Woody Allen’s 2011 romantic comedy Midnight in Paris, the main character played by Owen Wilson is asked by the fictional Ernest Hemingway, if he has made love to a really wonderful woman, and if he is afraid of dying. After Owen answers both questions in the affirmative, Hemingway continues:
“I believe that love that is true and real creates a respite from death. All cowardice comes from not loving, or not loving well, which is the same thing. And when the man who is brave and true looks death squarely in the face, like some rhino hunters I know, or Belmonte, who’s truly brave. It is because they love with sufficient passion to push death out of their minds until it returns as it does to all men. And then you must make really good love again. Think about it.”
Following Hemingway’s logic, April has stepped into Nigerian music with noteworthy valiance. This is the sort of courage that is needed to carve a niche. April may as well be on her way to leading Nigerian Neo-Soul by providing a breath of fresh air to the percussion-heavy, poetically clumsy, and at times obscene Nigerian love songs. Yet, April has potential beyond the Nigerian market. Last summer in Berlin I regularly attended independent band sessions at Flux FM’s riverside venue. She would fit into this scene like a glove to a hand.
As I searched for her music on Spotify the first time, I landed on Billie Holiday. I had typed ‘April’ and the song April in Paris popped up as a suggestion. This is where I distinguish April from other Afropop singers like Tems, Niniola, and Tiwa Savage. It is her almost painless delivery and her delicately coarse voice. This is a God-given trait, something like that of the late Guru from Gangstarr. RIP.
At just 13 minutes playtime, one could effortlessly listen to the EP twice over. Credit should go to the producers for ensuring that the sounds land smoothly upon your ear. Her first single Whispers from 2019 is equally satisfying. The song addresses infidelity with an undertone of female empowerment (intended or otherwise). The rap verse is also very good. Citymonstar whom she also features in the song somebody polishes off the hip hop vibe.
There is a certain unobtrusive feminist tone to her that I genuinely appreciate. I say this while considering extreme feminists, who, for instance, do not shave bodily hairs as an act of rebellion towards men. Is this not a cruel approach to the advocacy of women’s rights? A feminist once enlightened me on the egalitarian goals of feminism. This includes animal rights, men’s rights, racial equality, and so on. In this sense, I am a feminist all the way.
That is why the song Nothing’s Over won me over. It is her deliberate emotional expression towards some hypothetical guy, during a breakup, that is liberating. She takes complete control, rendering the man passive in the situation. I believe this is more empowering than the belligerent approach of remaining unshaven. The reason is that it negates the need to seek men’s approval. The same goes for the fight against racial discrimination. True emancipation should not rest on concepts of tolerance as suggested by the shaving example. That is, basing that action on men’s disapproval. Think about it. How can we translate the problem of sexism or racism as a problem of tolerance? Just imagine Martin Luther King Jnr. proclaiming that white people should tolerate black people in America. To him, that would be a ridiculous and obscene statement.
“The struggle against racism is not a struggle for tolerance, but for social, economic, political, and cultural rights, and for changing unjust and undemocratic power relations. Zizek makes a parallel with feminism, asking if feminists struggle to be ‘tolerated’ by men. Of course not — from this perspective, the concept of tolerance even becomes rather ridiculous. Tolerance, in other words, does not work as an imperative for political struggle.” (Mepschen, P., 2009)
Do not let this extended analysis distract you. This is an excellent EP that will unquestionably vivify your summer.