new music: seinabo sey’s ambitious pop debut, ‘pretend’ #soundcheck

October 23, 2015

Anchored by one of my favorite singles of the year, “Hard Time,” Seinabo Sey’s debut record Pretend is a truly ambitious pop record. With soulful eclectic production, and Sey’s personal songwriting and vocals, the songs are deceptively simple, but contain incredible depths.

By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor

“Nothing comes without pain,” Seinabo Sey sings on the infectious “Who.” It’s posed as a piece of Polonius-esque advice; well-meaning and intended to be immediately dismissed. “Who do you think you are?” She responds to her well-meaning would-be inner-critics. Nevertheless, the best songs on Pretend are the ones that come from pain. “What would the world be if we let it be just fine / what would a smile be without a tear some time?” She sings on “Easy,” a massive electro soul anthem. Her voice reaches for uplift in denial of its own sorrow. When that conflict hits, the album truly comes alive.

Though a few of the ballads come a little too close to Top 40 formula, songs like “Ruin” and the room-filling “Burial” refuse to blend in. The album-closing 1-2 punch find Sey at her most bombastic and theatrical. It’s a place where she sounds most comfortable. On bonus track “Pistols At Dawn,” her voice descends to Grace Jonesian depths to powerful effect. It’s ironic that when unconstrained by the tame expectations of modern pop, Seinabo Sey consistently delivers her best songs.

Pretend is out now worldwide everywhere good music is sold.