Album of the Week: Nosizwe – In Fragments

This week’s album of the week comes at the behest of MC Kaman, who applauded Nosizwe’s debut album for its Jazz-touches and it’s approachable sonic nature. “In Fragments” sees the Norwegian/South-African songstress cement something definitive in the long player format, with her voice the guiding light for a musical accompaniment that saunters around elements of Hip Hop, Jazz and R&B. What she first established on “Do You” in the recorded format, sounds more moulded than ever around Nosizwe’s voice, emphasising the unique character of her vocal and proving new ground for pop music in the way of someone like Solange Knowles, the Weekend or Blood Orange.

The South African connection also feels stronger than ever with Nosizwe channeling everything from Miriam Makemba to Ma’Sibongile  Khumalo and especially Brenda Fassie through her music, putting her own twist on this heritage through processed beats and harmonic-and melodic movements that step much further outside of any common musical language. From the walking double bass jazz lines of “Lesson” to the dusty sampled drums and horns of “Breathe”, Nosizwe paints broad strokes through her music and somehow they all conspire around her singular voice. Nosizwe’s vocals, whose dynamic range can go from sweet subtle serenade to a determined soulful eruption, are the bedrock from which all these elements are built and shape the album. And even with these diverse aspects informing the music there’s something complete and resolute about the album and Nosizwe.

Her musical identity is as complex as her own, and her lyrics offering some social commentary talks of  subjects like the recent social unrest around South Africa’s universities through “Lesson”; #blacklivesmatter  through”Breathe”, and touches on feminist themes in “Keep a good Woman down”. She weaves these politically motivations through her musical narrative like Erika Badu, not as a protest album, but rather an observational commentary on the current situation. It’s the amendable nature of the music that keeps you tuned into these themes with Nosizwe’s voice offering that human, visceral connection for the entirety of “In Fragments”.