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Michael Olatuja

Speak

(Backdrop/ObliqSound; US: 28 Jul 2009; UK: 28 Jul 2009)

Speak is a group album, with a multitude of instrumentalists (Jean Toussaint on soprano saxophone, Anyan Leke on talking drum) and guest singers (Eska Mtungwazi, Onaje Jefferson), linked together by Michael Olatuja’s bass guitar. The guitar clears a smooth path through 50 minutes of gospel and soul, with Yoruba touches dropped in along the way. Olatuja is Nigerian-British, but the dominant note, however, is American. Most of the singing voices are American, with the notable exception being TY, a De La Soulish British rapper who appears on the title track. The guitarist’s recent move to New York has evidently born fruit, so has his religion: The lyrics roll with Christian uplift. God is even more dominant than the Americans. He is thanked, praised and embraced. Mtungwazi is close to Him, and everything she feels is altered in consequence. Speak is gospel sweet and confident in its beliefs.

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