25-year old Simbiatu “Simbi” Abisola Abiola Ajikawo, a.k.a. Little Simz, is now on her third album and displaying an incredible amount of maturity for her tender age.
GREY Area is a powerful and provocative work that lays bare both her fragility and her steely determination. There is musical sophistication here to match her well-conceived lyrical lashings, which combine to deliver a quite impressive opus.
Simbi sets her stall out on opener Offence, which features some classic funk breakbeat, buzzy bass and jazz-style flutes as she essentially warns us that she doesn’t care who she offends. If you’re bothered by what she’s got to say – that’s on you.
There are other powerful messages contained in this album. Wounds, with its bluesy guitar and impatient keyboard and drum line, hits out at women who get embroiled in and end up supporting and glorifying gun culture.
Venom, possibly top track on the album, uses ominous strings and oppressive keyboards to call out sexism in the music industry and highlights how forthright women can be cast aside for being too intimidating.
There are a fair few self-reflecting pieces on here. Therapy finds Little Simz recounting how counselling sessions hadn’t worked for her, but did find redemption in the power of perseverance and self-belief.
Sherbert Sunset, another track driven by a fantastic funky bass line, is a classic break-up track, but manages to combine the relief of having dodged a bullet with regret at it having ended and counting up the damage done from both the relationship and the split.
We get some traditional Japanese melodies via keyboard accompanied by some cracking heavy bass on 101 FM. The track offers us the well worn gem that the most important lessons in life don’t come at school, but does manage to reference Crash Bandicoot and Mortal Kombat in the process. Priceless.
It’s not a perfect album, some tracks don’t develop as much as you may want, but there are enough highlights to keep your attention throughout, and to go back for a repeat listen.
Release date: 01 March 2019
Standout track: Venom
For fans of:
- Missy Elliott
- Loyle Carner
- Miss Red