Album Review: Joe El’s Timeless Is Basic, Unremarkable Stuff

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How do you embark on a legitimate career for yourself when you bear more than a striking physical and vocal resemblance to one of Africa’s most beloved pop stars? Should such a twist of nature be a gift or curse? Some persons would think it a drawback, one to be picked apart and chewed on constantly by lazy journalists who cannot think beyond the box. The boredom and tediousness that must accompany such mundane semblance questions posed by Nigerian journalists should be approaching epic proportions by the first year of such an artiste’s professional existence.

But if you are Joe El Amadi, all is fair in love and war and there is an advantage to be gleaned from every situation. He embraces the resemblance and goes ahead to encourage the comparisons, even collaborating with the icon himself on the album’s smooth lead single Hold on. It is also eerie that Jo El is signed to Kennis Music, the same label that put out 2face Idibia’s first two solo albums and works extensively with OJB Jezreel, a producer who has a long history with Idibia. He also chants slangs made popular by Idibia.

Strange behaviour to say the least.

In any case, Timeless, his debut studio effort is hardly on the same page as 2face’s seminal debut Face2face. It consists of singles Jo El has put out as far back as 2012, placed side by side with more recent offerings.

The senior members of this team asides from the 2face duet can be seen on the faux Afro beat party starter Oya now with Oritsefemi, the empty barrel of Bakololo and the jumpy I’m happy.

The record consists mostly of middle of the road mid-tempo pop/R&B ditties that keep the engines warm but are not quite hot enough to explode. DJ Coublon’s guitar strings are the most memorable thing on the Iyanya assisted Chukwudi. Phyno is anything but memorable on Fade away, even as the song fades entirely from memory. The Terry G howler Na God is instantly skippable. So is the J Martins bore fest, Like this.

There is good stuff in the mix. You are in love is a sweet jam reminiscent of 90s pop. Blown away (with B. Howard) also has this sexy, throwback feel. The album starts out well enough but loses steam at the midway period and never really recovers. The hard hitting, fast moving, flow of today’s pop scene is unlikely to give this album the chance to flourish and bloom. Which is quite a let-down as the record possesses the potential of catching on if a little patience is expended.

But ain’t nobody got the time. Not Top 10 radio, not the club scene regulars and certainly not the lukewarm consumers that constitute a significant portion of the music market. The music has to grab attention from the get go. Whether it is good or bad is really of secondary interest. Even with its obvious drawbacks, Joe El’s Timeless could still have been a contender.

But the problem with Joe El Amadi and his entire brand remains the same after the 18 track running time. It is interesting to look and sound like 2face Idibia. Cool stuff maybe. But what next? What happens when that novelty wears off? And it wears off fast. We came for the resemblance, but why should we stay?

Timeless does not attempt to answer any of those questions.

Wilfred Okiche

Wilfred Okiche

Wilfred Okiche is a movie buff and music head. He is still waiting for that one record that will change his life and remains ever optimistic. You can follow him on Twitter @drwill20

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