Ty Bello used to be a member of the musical quartet Kush, best known for the hit single Let’s live together. The band split, she went solo and in 2007, broke out as a solo act with the massive Greenland, an anthemic expression of hope for a country badly in need of it. A full album followed shortly after but Bello, being a woman of many parts, strayed from the music.
Content- perhaps due to vocal limitations- with staying strictly a recording artiste, Bello shunned live acts and pursued her other passion- photography,- in a short space of time, establishing herself as one of the highest profile names behind the cameras.
Save for 2011’s clunky The Future single, Bello stayed largely away from music, only to resurface last October with The Morning songbook, a free compilation which is the result of a song writing and music making process that started in 2009.
The music on The Morning songbook may be free, available for download on TY Bello’s web page, but the quality is top notch. Bello works with her regular collaborator Mosa Adegboye, and together both music heads create a blissfully brief praise and worship session with the creator. Unabashedly gospel, the record is tastefully produced with TY Bello doing some vocal heavy lifting, and trying repeatedly to stay ahead of her backing choir. Save for vocal guest appearances by Mike Adenuga (Yahweh) and Msugh on Alagbada ina, The record is essentially Mrs Bello and her choir expressing the goodness of God in various ways.
2007’s Greenland is the most traditional pop song Bello has recorded. With its melodious tune, sugary sweet sing along chorus and crowd pleasing video, it is surely no surprise the record was such a huge hit as it seemed crafted instinctively for commercial radio success. Everything Bello has done since then however, has been an antithesis of Greenland’s winning formula. The follow up single Ekundayo is one of the unlikeliest songs to be serviced to radio and The Future despite its message of encouragement for the youth wasn’t exactly the feel good record of the year.
The Morning songbook continues in that tradition of multi-composed arrangements that pay no mind to the regular verse-bridge-chorus structure. The album opener, Yahweh commences ominously with the beating of drums and Bello’s lukewarm verse which she delivers almost nonchalantly. The song picks up considerably when gospel act, Wale Adenuga joins in with a more expressive power that pours out easily and uplifts the sound. The duo make for a complementary pair even when Mr Adenuga appears to be dishing out more energy than Bello can muster and she widely cedes the spotlight to him.
The equation is a lot more balanced on the next song, Alagbada ina. Here, Bello goes back and forth with Msugh, accompanied by busy guitars and heavy, brooding drums. The record begins to flow more fluidly and soon, Bello finds herself doing all of the vocal heavy lifting on I am, a positive affirmation of human ability aided generously by superhuman compulsion, before being joined in the final 60 seconds by the backing choir.
Restorer is a more traditional gospel number and Bello sings it with restrained relish before pulling out all the stops for Jesu Jesu and Gates and doors, 2 album highlights in which Bello stretches her recognisable alto as far as she can manage in order to keep up with the choir. The results are wholly uplifting.
The only time the tempo of the record flags (apart from the unnecessary skits) is on Dance for you, a generic drummed up number that fails to stand out.
The best things in life they say are free and this recent mother of twins proves this maxim with this welcome collection of finely crafted gems.
Do yourself the favour and DOWNLOAD.
– Wilfred Okiche (@drwill20)