After seven perusals, Aminata’s “Inner Voice” grows on the ears as an organic collection of songs, though chock-full with the unreal sounds of modern-day digital music production, wielded expertly by her collaborator, producer and all-around sonic wizard Kaspars Ansons.
No less deserving of mention, though falling by the wayside in much of the mix are the live session musicians, including string instrument master Jānis Ruņģis, drummers Kaspars Kurdenko and Rihards Fedotovs and cellist Jānis Pauls. Trying to figure out where the real instruments are audible is actually part of the fun here!
The opening track pulsates with electronic squeaks, whirrs and whizzes as Aminata’s meandering melodic voice is artfully synthesized into digital robotics that suddenly fly into spiraling peaks. The lyric persuades the listener to “be alive, revive the spirit that still lives inside.”
Leave my Love Bleeding ****
Relentless handclapping introduces a jilted girl’s bounce-back lyric and launches a vengeful riff that makes perfect mincemeat of the ex. The theme and attitude familiar in the classic Motown standard “I will survive” survives Aminata’s reiteration with a powerful dance-floor groove that knows exactly when to drop out for dramatic effect. Her multi-tracked backing vocals on the final chorus triumphantly saturate grit and sass as they soar above the repeated choruses, capturing how a coming-of-age can transpire in the course of just three minutes and twenty two seconds.
The Bound ***
The album’s third track continues the percolating electronica with bass synths propelling a pensive reflection upon the ambiguous title concept – read either as ‘boundary’ or ‘captive’, and hinting at a reflective wisdom that belies the young artist’s actual time spent on Earth.
Love Injected ****
The daring entry paid off in spades, indeed. Spanning her vocal skills from the breathy cooing verses to the plaintive wailing chorus, she even dared treat SILENCE as part of the song!
Land of Nibiru *****
Here Aminata conjures an ambient cosmic journey and deploys just enough of a stratospheric rasp in her voice to catapult us “to the edge of the earth” in this transporting number. A departure in time-signature from her neo-soul predilections toward a promising progressive turn, innovative hints of world music emanate from the introductory wisps of classical guitar through to the vocalized tribal-sounding background chants at the close.
I Can Breathe ****
A classic electric piano interlaced with string-section phrasings and punctuated by bari-sax grunts marks an instrumental harkening to standard R&B aesthetics, but rendered in a contemporary soundscape. Another girl scorned and spurned sings of being torn and burned, but – lo and behold, she can still breathe and shall survive!
Cell Phone ****
A novelty number only insofar as it stands out in topical departure from the rest of the album’s lyric themes. It’s a raucous rock number that doesn’t suffer any identity crisis at all from the massive electronic arrangement underneath. Jānis Ruņģis’ banjo might have used a little less jizz, but sounds cool in the mix all the same.
Let Me Know ****
“That’s my inner voice, who has made that choice. I advise you to listen what it says to you.” The thematic title track’s acoustic and bass guitars alternate with the synthetics that quickly flood into the arrangement and chop up the groove of the chorus, to step back away again for the instrumental combo accompanying through the verses.
Ring My Bells ***
The only number that seems derived externally as opposed to coming from Aminata’s own palette of emotions. A repetitive diva-rap, the lyrics of which get a bit too chummy with the boyfriend, who’s usefulness is clearly revealed in previous tracks (“I Can Breathe”, “Leave My Love Bleeding”) after he’s already dumped our protagonista extraordinaire!
Until We Land *****
Goosebumps! In a perfect album closer, guest artist Ralfs Eilands matches Aminata’s voice in unison after delivering his own impeccable solo in the second verse, but lest we forget who wrote the song, we hear her voice rise from their shared melody to delight us in departure.
*** rippable for random shuffles whenever
**** a playlist keeper