It’s hard not to approach Eva Alordiah’s album without dealing with the elephant in the room; This album came too late. There’s been an age of announcements, delays, heartbreaks, failed dates, loss of attention and bile, all for one album.
It took two years since the first announcement of this project for it to be made available via a URL to a new website that is far removed from the normal digital channels of distribution and circulation. Eva made the delay an art, tried to manage the lack of honesty and transparency by releasing pacifying materials that nobody cared about.
But it is here, innit? We have Eva’s debut studio album, which feels like something that at some point, many thought would never have been a reality. It’s like having that unexpected call to come pick up a long promised check, at a point where your patience has been stretched to the limit and your hope has become solid despair. That resultant feeling of jubilation and vitality has happened to us all, and “1960” is in.
Gray Jones and Tin Tin have been the forces behind the music on this, both producers handling production of the 13 tracks.
Eva’s deep sense of creativity and her leanings towards the sensual, dark and eccentric are well-documented and whelming. And it is that same dark force that makes the album start in the way it does. Morose African drumming, eerie sounds, and gloomy, morbid chants litter the eardrums for a minute before Eva opens up. “Okay do you see me now? I’m here and they wonder how, a black girl with dreams from the South will have it all figured out.” Eva intones on the hypnagogic ensemble of ‘TTMB’ – as challenging an opening line as you’re ever likely to hear, and one which sets the tone for this.
She maintains this rallying cry with Yemi Alade, on ‘Mbali’. “I look fly on the outside, but I’m patched up on the inside,”, as she exposes her inner vulnerability. Eva addresses her disturbance and ponderings so directly, and it is this truthfulness and its reverberations that define this project. “1960” was forged from a place of deep thought, loneliness, confusion, strength, honesty and truth.
No Nigerian album released this year will inspire such conflicting emotions in you. “1960” is both beautiful and harrowing, sometimes difficult to listen, but even more difficult to look away from.
Eva is queen of narrative songwriting, and we are often offered peeping glimpses into her torment: “Stress, all of this stress, look at this pimples, look at this mess. Mine, fuck what I look like, I’m looking for the me that don’t look like the one without the good life,” she rages on ‘Pretty’. While the bouncy ‘For My Momma’ is flooded with her aspirational need to make money, and how she’s certain that her mother “want the same the same thing”.
The music is restrained, vacant, and sometimes almost manifesting as ambient. Listen to ‘Yaba’, whose eerie din is pleasant, and forms the backdrop for some real talk from the rapper, although not without intrusive synths and intricate drum patterns.
Eva’s own state of brilliant disarray is contrasted with her Reggae-influenced bitter-sweet motivational of a damsel of ‘Sweet little girl’ – “Let’s talk about the things that hurt you, I wanna be the one that you talk to” she sings. While Afrobeat maestro, Femi Kuti performs admirably with the saxophone on ‘Woman’, a song which acts as a kind of happy balm, rubbing against the previous track.
As stunning as “1960” is, there are times where you’ll inevitably question what you, the listener, is deriving from it – Empathy? Release? Happiness? Yet this is not an album for the rest of us; it’s a carefully thought out reaction to a wild, dark and creative mind that most people will either love or hate to the extreme. It enters the realm of creative selflessness, where Eva has to share. Just as a drum must be beaten to be of any use to the ears, that’s how Eva’s personal world must be made into music for we all to listen, process and ultimately appreciate.