Sinkane – Life & Livin’ It

An inspired return that fuses a universal outlook with highly individual songwriting...

Sinkane has always aspired towards the universal. After all, it’s his entire life story: real name Ahmed Gallab, he was born in London, spent his early childhood in Sudan before coming of age in America.

It’s definitely there in the music. ‘Life & Livin’ It’ is the songwriter’s sixth full length, a journey that has taken him across the globe via his heady blend of West African rhythm, Sudanese pop, indie songwriting, and analogue electronics.

‘Life & Livin’ It’ is billed as a reaction to the breakout success of 2014’s ‘Mean Love’, and it’s certainly bolstered by this period of intense touring. Each song feels more muscular, the interplay between instruments more assured, more confident.

Opening cut ‘Deadweight’ opens in zero gravity synth loops before gradually focussing on heavy duty bass and that searing vocal. ‘Favorite Song’ is sheer sunshine, fusing glistening highlife guitar with some squelching electronics in an ode to the euphoric powers of music.

The influence of William Onyeabor can be felt in virtually every groove of the vinyl. The Nigerian pioneer passed away earlier this year, with Sinkane writing a moving tribute on these very pages.

Sinkane lead the Atomic Bomb Band on a series of international dates, a tribute to Onyeabor’s work that brought huge plaudits. ‘Life & Livin’ It’ is no doubt bolstered by this, with those clunking analogue machines purring with renewed life, a verve and sheer joi de vivre that is difficult to envisage in anyone’s music but William Onyeabor.

That said, this is no mere tribute. As a songwriter, Sinkane pushes ahead, pursuing his own tastes and dedication. ‘Telephone’ is sublime electro-funk, all falsetto and taut cymbal cracks, while ‘Won’t Follow’ is a simple, touching lament that strips the arrangement right down.

It’s difficult not to contrast the Stateside based musician with the current regime occupying the White House. Sinkane searches for the universal, and his inspired trips are a reminder that love, joy, music, and the pursuit of happiness belong to everyone. ‘Life & Livin’ It’ is a powerful reminder that basic truths, basic rights, are always the most important.

8/10

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