What happened? The Sisters’ second album, Mother Africa (1977), was strong, sweet and personal funk plus church plus Nigeria, but this third one (1978) sounds like American leftovers done with a tinny synthesizer. Even the singing’s worse. “Set Me Free” is slow and the voices appear to want to go faster, but they hobble themselves, and the pause between “set” and “me” is often dead waiting for the next note to bring it back to life.
The songs root themselves in repetition and don’t go beyond. The blurb tells me that the lyrics are heartfelt but most of them might as well have been borrowed. Which doesn’t mean they’re not also heartfelt, but let’s say a little uninspired. “Reincarnation” is an exception. Halfway through the title song their collaborator and arranger Biddy Wright copies the idea of a long instrumental break without the inventions, surprises, variety, riffs and contrast that would give it a reason for existing. The skin’s there but there is no meat inside.
// Notes from the Road
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