There’s something to be said about music that ages well. The kind of record that comes on the radio 12 years later while you’re at a traffic light and excites you as it did then. I get that effect from Teedra Moses’ Be your girl, Corinne Bailey Rae’s Trouble Sleeping and Rihanna’s Pon De Replay. These evergreens float without being tied to an era. I recently came across an EP that feels like it will be just that. Mpho Sebina’s NEO has all the markers of a soul music classic.
The moTswana songstress (from Gaborone) has been on my radar for some time now. She dropped a few covers on Youtube and Soundcloud as well as a spectacular music video for her lead single Love’s Light two years ago which was followed by silence.
Last October the release of this EP coincided with the release of Distruction Boyz’s debut album which did her no favors with South African audiences who were transfixed on the qgom’ wave. Now that all that dust has settled, I think it would be a great time to shift our gaze towards Miss Sebina.
Her voice floats ever so gracefully over often moody beats which are anchored by African tribal elements – claps, the sound of water and traditional instruments that thread together the 6 tracks. Although the feeling she conveys is ethereal and she has a gift for conveying vulnerability, she sings with a confidence and steadiness that makes the listener take notice. By far my best pick of this album is Tjuele, a song sung entirely in seTswana – it hits me in the chest every single time and I don’t even understand the language.
If you’re a fan of Amel Larrieux, Jhene Aiko, Maleh and even Erykah Badu, I have a feeling you’d want to get into this. You’ll be mesmerized by Sebina’s effortless approach to soul music.