by Wilfred Okiche
She endeared herself to us as a member of Lagbaja’s band where her soaring vocals easily distinguished her and set her apart for future stardom. Her appearances in his music videos were a joy to behold and she became as much a star as the masked one himself. The inevitable cries for a solo career became deafening and when she eventually left Lagbaja’s band, anticipation was high for a sizzling turn.
It didn’t come immediately. Months rolled into years. A single here, a video there and in that time, Ego teased us with snippets of what was to come. “Talent like mine isn’t rushed’’ she seemed to be saying and her exasperated fans gobbled up the new material as they waited (im)patiently for the full record.
The wait is over and with ‘Firsteps’, Ego has put her best foot forward and made one of the defining discs of 2013. The experience can be imagined as a short but entirely affirming soul session where she takes the stage of a darkly lit stage in a smoky café and pours out her heart and soul.
The familiar songs are here in all their evergreen glory. The twangy guitar strings of ‘Fall in love’ are a delight that make you want to burst out in joy. The big, broad showstopper ‘I believe’ sweeps you away with it’s magnitude and depth and the stand out piano driven take of ‘Bia nulu’, a traditional Igbo classic made popular by Onyeka Onwenu has Ego giving the Elegant Stallion a run for her money. If Ego’s version finds a wide audience, it may well end up being the definitive version of the song.
Thanks to the smooth and confident production of Cobhams Asuquo and Nathaniel Bassey, the disc is one any serious artiste would take pride in making. There is no wasted song, no album filler (though the Fela remake ‘Palava’ comes flirtingly close)
The torch song ‘Got a problem’ is a balm for anyone who has ever suffered unrequited love, ‘Never knew’ is flirty and breezy and Nene the diva is the perfect soul sister in the mid-tempo anthem ‘Sista.’ Ego’s vocals are polished, trained to near perfection with no allowances for needless oversinging. She conveys all the emotions demanded of her at every turn.
Debut albums don’t get much better than this and with ‘Firsteps’, Ego proves herself a true artiste; ignoring the beating drums of popular leanings and makes exactly the album she always had in mind.
She should be as proud of herself as we are of her.
The writer tweets from @drwill20
–[Photo: H/T Amuza TV]