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There are voices that demand we listen to them. Not to their words necessarily, but to their tone, to the emotional undercurrent that carries with it the soul of the speaker. Ndidi Onukwulu is one of those voices and she sings to bring us back to sounds of our insides. Lyrics reminiscent of the rattling thoughts found in the back of our minds layer in and around organically ground sounds.
She sings of her life experience so convincingly the audience is set to wonder if they too grew up wandering the dense forests of B.C's most lonely mountain towns. This may be the reason behind her winning the Maple Blues New Artist of the Year award in January of 2007, representing as she does a distinctly Canadian experience; standing astride lines blurred between contrasting cultures and heritages. Born of a Nigerian father and a German mother her lineage, like her music, explores the globe then brings it back home. Her gypsy journey has collected a diverse range of sounds and styles which she weaves into an orchestration strong enough to support her strong lyrics and relentless vocals.
As varied as her influences may be they culminate in an expression of the blues that is undoubtedly Ndidi. On her debut No, I Never, Ndidi Onukwulu proved she can wrap her silky voice around anything from country blues to her own rootsy salon sound. Now we have The Contradictor, all about focus, training that formidable silk edge on everyone's private pain, and contradicting the anguish with a full, upbeat, resonance.
The Contradictor is personal and universal, built on Ndidi's songwriting mining the extremes of intimacy, with the bigger sounds and tones she is most interested in uncovering. These are songs of heartache, heartbreak, and longing. 'Not nice,' as she says, but as full as these can be. And as rich.
The album opens with the brass-laden 'SK Final,' and moves breathlessly to the anthemic 'The Lady & E.' Other standouts are 'Rise,' which hearkens back to the blues of Ndidi's first release, and 'No Everybody,' that sneaks an anti-conformity rock message under a reggae opening.
Joining Ndidi on the CD is a fearsome roster of world-class players: including Jesse Zubot (strings/mandolin), Paul Pigat (guitars), Steve Dawson (guitars), Roey Shemesh (bass), Barry Mirochnick (drums) and Tyson Naylor ( keyboards). Dawson produced the CD with Zubot producing some of the tracks.