Sauti Sol – Midnight Train (Review) – The Art of Highlife & Afropop fusion mastered Perfectly!

GenreAfro-Pop, Afro-Soul, Rhumba, Highlife

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Sauti SolA 4-man Kenyan Group/Band – had swam on the surface skim of the mainstream world from 2005 when the band was formed – An Acapella band with vocals that mixed English and Swahili. It all changed with a world class 3rd studio album in 2015 “Live and Die in Afrika”. This did not just propel the group into mainstream limelight, it also outstretched them as one of the biggest music heads from Kenya and Africa in general. “Live and Die in Afrika” was the masterpiece that contained amazing songs including “Sura Yako“, “Isabella“, “Kuliko Jana“, “Shake Yo Bam Bam” and “Kuliko Jana“. The greatness of this album equated thoughts that it’s level could never be surpassed – Sauti Sol threw those thoughts in the bin with ‘Midnight Train

Midnight Train – the band’s 4th studio Album – is a project that doesn’t deflect from Sauti Sol’s deep roots. It is an album that transcends Acapella, Afro-Pop, Afro-Soul, RnB and even Highlife.

A complete body of work that is sprung off Sauti Sol’s superpowers; The ability to give beautiful vocal harmonies while making you feel however they want – they could make you feel like you’re at a live band concert, or a club, a love garden or at an Acapella competition.

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The 13-track project is arguably one of the best projects out of Africa this year. From its superb production and mixing that transverse a spectrum that ranges from soulful tunes to Traditional sounds-infused mid-tempo guitar grooves. A project that also boasts of enormous replay value with choruses and hooks – but most importantly, messages – that tend to stay in your hearts forever.

Track-by-Track review of Midnight Train

Another commendable view about Midnight Train is it’s well arranged and trimmed tracklist. They did well to neglect the urge to add filler tracks while arranging the tracks in a way that sucks you in and make you fall in love with the whole project. Absolutely Flawless.

What better way to start the album that In a way that pays tribute to Sauti Sol’s root? The Intro track is an inspiring Acapella/Acoustic fused song that passes an important message about doing only what makes you happy. The track with the album title “Midnight Train” is a determination-infused mid-tempo song that tells the Sauti Sol story and how they’re going to keep on the journey to they reach Zion – the land that flows with milk and honey

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The insecurities that come with the revelation of a flaw in a partner could be scary, Sauti Sol agrees on their “Insecure” track. This beautiful song starts off with an amazing Rhumba guitar groove that just melts the heart. The theme is maintained on “Feel My love“, a low-tempo song that focuses on the phenomenon that is LOVE, a focus made live through beautiful vocals on a soft produced love song. The already pre-released single “Brighter Days” had already seen impressive commercial acceptance before the project, it features the Grammy-winning Soweto Gospel Choir. This feature just aggravated the harmonies levels on a bass/Drums up-tempo production.

Nenda Lote” which means “Go All“, performed completely in the Swahili Dialect is a story telling song that reminisces the before and after scenarios of a divorce. While it’s a slow tempo song, the bass/Drums infused chorus gives a different tempo that is set to make you dance. Another pre-released Track “Suzanna” is a song that’s perfect to be a lead single; the type of Rhumba production and the message it passes is a mix that is perfect. An Acapella interlude comes next, have I applauded the brilliance of this project’s track sequencing? I’ll applaud it a second time, it’s amazing.

What is Afrobeat without grooves? “My Everything” is as Groovy as they come, the bass backdrops gives chills, and featured 4-time Grammy-winning artist India.Arie just does good to the cause as she blends seamlessly. Mortimer brings his enthralling Reggae vocals on “Wake Up“, which is a mid-tempo chilling tune. “Sober” is one of the best songs on the project as it talks about the wave of reality that hits after getting sober and the fiery urge to make things better than they were. The soft production mixes slow guitar keys with shallow bass synths and amazing vocals of course. Sauti Sol threaded an experimental path on “Rhumba Japani” as it infuses trap chops with traditional sounds. SAUTI SOL DID AFRO-TRAP. This project ends on a Wavy note, an Up-tempo Chant Dance song that features artists perfect for the type of sound – South Africa’s Sho Madjozi and Black Motion.

Midnight Train is an album that passes numerous moral lessons, Midnight Train is an album with impeccable track sequencing and production, Midnight Train is a project with beautiful versatility, Midnight Train features Grammy winning artists, Midnight Train deserves a Grammy.

It had been 5 years since Sauti Sol last dropped an album before this, I’m sure fans worldwide can agree with me that it was well worth the wait.

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