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Chiagoziem Onyekwena

When Led Zeppelin was being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, the band’s highly underrated bassist John Paul Jones told a brilliant joke during his acceptance speech that became one of the highlights of the night. John Paul quipped –
Thank you to my friends for finally remembering my phone number.
Like any good joke, there was an element of truth to it, bassists are historically the most underappreciated members of most bands, the focal point is usually the lead singer or even the guitarist. Lindsey Abudei is her own lead but her music has been similarly underappreciated over the years. The singer unexpectedly released her debut album … And the Bass is Queen last week, so hopefully it goes a long way in correcting that.
The album strolls effortlessly between neo soul and pop-rock, picking elements from both genres over its 50 minute musical excursion. “Have You?” is its shortest burst at under 2 minutes, while at over 6 minutes long, “High” is its longest trek. On the former, against the backdrop of drenching, melodramatic keys, Lindsey builds a musical puzzle with her soothing voice, one rhetorical question at a time, while she manages to answer some of those questions for us on the latter. The latter being the super descriptive “High” – Ms Abudei sings emotively about fear and love and how that mix could make even the most confident perso ... Read Full Review

When Led Zeppelin was being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, the band’s highly underrated bassist John Paul Jones told a brilliant joke during his acceptance speech that became one of the highlights of the night. John Paul quipped –
Thank you to my friends for finally remembering my phone number.
Like any good joke, there was an element of truth to it, bassists are historically the most underappreciated members of most bands, the focal point is usually the lead singer or even the guitarist. Lindsey Abudei is her own lead but her music has been similarly underappreciated over the years. The singer unexpectedly released her debut album … And the Bass is Queen last week, so hopefully it goes a long way in correcting that.
The album strolls effortlessly between neo soul and pop-rock, picking elements from both genres over its 50 minute musical excursion. “Have You?” is its shortest burst at under 2 minutes, while at over 6 minutes long, “High” is its longest trek. On the former, against the backdrop of drenching, melodramatic keys, Lindsey builds a musical puzzle with her soothing voice, one rhetorical question at a time, while she manages to answer some of those questions for us on the latter. The latter being the super descriptive “High” – Ms Abudei sings emotively about fear and love and how that mix could make even the most confident person vulnerable and weary.
On the abstractly writing “Libra man”, she looks to the stars for some more answers – or does she? Lindsey claims to have “no care for planetary motions”, so she warns her starry-eyed lover not to read too much meaning into the compatibility between her sign (Aquarius) and his. The mood of the LP is often this tense, the writing dark and reflective. There are misplaced bright patches on “Out the Magazine” and “When You Don’t Drive Me Mad”, 2 of the 3 songs lifted from her Brown EP. I don’t mean to be a killjoy but the optimism on both songs doesn’t fit well with the dourness of the rest of the LP. Their for-the-radio polish is a mismatch with the husky, shaky voice that made the remorse on “Apologise” sound genuine or the conflict between heart and head on “Leaving” that made the record feel so real.
But I guess gloom doesn’t sell records in a country where there’s already more than enough to be pessimistic about. That’s part of the reason why I feel Lindsey and her producer Atta Otigba are gunning for something truly special. The other part is that their approach on this album is supremely worldly, even more so than Asa’s or Bez’ – no Afro-anything hybrid. Many at times the arrangement and delivery is near world class but the singer is based in Abuja, the home of other neo-soul merchants like Age Beeka before her. So for all its technical quality and artistic depth, local radio might think their audience doesn’t want to hear Lindsey sing and just as they were with Beeka, local radio might just be wrong.
In keeping with the album’s title and genius cover art, the queen isn’t the most important piece on the chessboard but she is the most powerful. If you kill your opponent’s queen, the game doesn’t just end, that’s not a checkmate but you do weaken them significantly. Similarly bass isn’t the loudest or most obvious element of a musical composition, but take it away and you’ve stripped down the foundation of so many genres of music, including Lindsey’s.
Perhaps that was the reason behind the singer naming her brilliant debut album … And the Bass is Queen or maybe not. Maybe, as with other albums that speak to whatever’s left of my my creativity and intelligence after reviewing distinctly shallower music every blessed day of my life, I’m just over-analyzing the whole damn thing.

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