Simphiwe Dana The One Love Movement on Banto Biko Street Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

An album world music followers should brace themselves to hear a lot more about.

Robert Jackman 2007

It’s testament to Simphiwe Dana’s cross-generational appeal that reviews of her debut album lavished her with comparisons to artists ranging from Miriam Makeba to American soul powerhouse, Lauryn Hill.

Those familiar with South Africa’s grand musical traditions saluted Zandisile as the long-awaited confirmation of an afro-soul renaissance. To their post-Apartheid ancestors, it was the work of a fearless pioneer.

Just three months after the UK release of Zandisile (blame thumb-twiddling record executives; the album was finished over three years ago) comes follow-up album The One Love Movement On Bantu Biko Street.

On first listen, One Love sounds strikingly familiar. Just like Zandisile, it makes a great deal of contrasting Simphiwe’s lulling tones and rich, sonorous choruses with flicks of streetwise, savvy jazz. It even shares the niggling imperfections of its predecessor, with Simphiwe’s backing orchestra occasionally lacking the dexterity of her voice.

It’s when you venture deeper into the album, looking to its lyrical depth and innate sense of purpose, that One Love shows its strength, leaving little doubt that Simphiwe – still only twenty-six-years-old – has matured vastly since her debut album.

The journey is not over yet, and One Love does show room for development. Ultimately, it’s a record that hints at Simphiwe’s marvellous potential, rather than truly harnessing it.

But there can be little doubt that Simphiwe Dana is quickly developing a confidence to match her talent. While its title might be an utter mouthful, The One Love Movement On Bantu Biko Street is an album world music followers should brace themselves to hear a lot more about.

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