Friday, April 19 2024

As an avid admirer of traditional African music and the energetic vibes of rock, South African singer-songwriter Chenel No.1, skillfully blends the essence of both worlds into her musical creations. Recognised for her genuine emotion and versatility in musical styles, Chenél’s previous works earned nominations at the Afri-Indie Independent Music Awards in 2023, establishing a global resonance with audiences.

Heartland’, her latest EP serves as an intimate collection, exploring themes of family, love, and devotion. Each track pays tribute to significant individuals in Chenél’s life, creating a narrative that resonates on a personal level. The opening track, ‘Beautiful Girl’ immediately captivates with its joyful, up-tempo rhythm, blending country influences with a pop-rock vibe. Dedicated to Chenel’s eldest daughter, the song vividly captures the essence of a young girl embarking on the journey of self-discovery, making it an uplifting and relatable experience for listeners.

Luanke’ a short yet instantly engaging pop-rock song sung in Afrikaans, pays homage to her youngest daughter. The track radiates celebration, embodying the innocence and wonder of childhood. The inclusion of a masterfully played guitar solo adds a touch of brilliance to this captivating musical gem.

The soulful ballad ‘Sweetheart’ draws parallels to the enchanting music of ‘The Lion King’ in its intro, seamlessly transitioning into a rock ballad in the verse. Inspired by Chenel’s middle daughter the song beautifully captures elegance and grace, reflecting the quiet strength and gentle nature that persevere in the face of life’s challenges. Chenél’s musical versatility shines through with a delightful blend of genres, showcasing a happy guitar riff that adds an extra layer of joy to the composition.

In the poignant track ‘She Is’ Chenél pays a heartfelt tribute to her own mother, crafting an emotional ballad that eloquently portrays the selfless love and unwavering support that mothers provide throughout life’s journey. The metaphor of a fierce lioness adds a powerful visual element to the song, with Chenel’s vocals delivering the essence of the lyrics through a dynamic melody and varying drum beats. The rock guitars in the chorus inject a powerful energy, reinforcing the emotional depth of the tribute.

Closing the EP with ‘Little Monster’ Chenel skillfully blends African beats, rock influences and multilingual lyrics, creating a vibrant fusion that mirrors the cultural diversity of South Africa. This upbeat lullaby serves as a perfect morning anthem, encouraging listeners to embrace the adventures and challenges of each new day. With its infectious rhythm and easy lyrics ‘Little Monster’ stands out as an ideal tune to kickstart the day, making it equally suitable for children starting their day in the classroom.

Chenel No.1’s ‘Heartland’ EP not only showcases her versatility through a soulful alto voice that effortlessly navigates various musical styles but also invites listeners into a world of profound personal connections, celebrating the individuality of each cherished loved one. Leaving an indelible mark on the intersection of traditional African sounds and the pulsating rhythms of rock, I’m enthralled by her unique sound.

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Review

Summary

Chenel No.1’s latest EP ‘Heartland’ blends traditional African music with rock and pop influences. The intimate collection of songs pay a heartfelt tribute to significant individuals in her life highlighting her musical prowess and emotional depth.
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Rating

song quality
vocal performance
lyrics
instrumentation
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About Author

Gee Nelson

Gee Nelson has been a musician, producer and songwriter since the '90’s. Besides music Gee loves reading, writing, watching British sitcoms and playing board games. His biggest influences are Green Day, Nirvana, Offspring and Eels. His favourite genre is 90’s and early 00’s (indie) rock.

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