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Rising from Oakland's vibrant underground, FEMI celebrates a trio of life forces on her debut EP, "Sweet Water Soul." It has love, the gift of prayer, and is fluid like water, which is the underlying theme of the EP. In tandem with FEMI's jazzy vocals, sensual lyrics, and gracious intent, the result is an unrivaled suite of original songs equally danceable and reverent.
For the past 5 years, FEMI helped pioneer a visionary music community in her native Bay Area. She is often categorized as a neo-SOUL soulstress and compared with artists such as Sade, Prince and Minnie Ripperton. Yet her experimental fusion transcends easy genres. "Sweet Water Soul" incorporates heavy doses of jazz, soul, hip-hop, and Caribbean influences, a melodic hybrid of the pulses of Oakland, New York, and Latin America. In the same vein, FEMI is called beyond "just" being a singer and performer; She wrote, composed, and arranged all of the material on the record, and was heavily involved in the studio recording process with pc muÃ±oz, a San Francisco-based producer with Talking House Records esteemed for challenging musical boundaries.
Sweet Water Soul's introductory track, "Sweet Water (Rezo)" -- rezo meaning prayer -- gives thanks to the love and protection of God and to FEMI's favorite orisha, Oshun, a river deity symbolizing prosperity and sensuality. "Oshun energy is always present in my life," she says. This song is the first instance of the breathy, jazzy flute that is a main instrument in most of the tracks, lending the album an airy yet grounded quality. "Imported" is a spicy rhythm, inspired by her first trip to Puerto Rico (a trip she took to learn more about her Afro-carribean roots) and the grandeur of a love surpassing time and space. Riding on the sweet staccato of Spanish-style guitar, FEMI's sultry, layered vocals conjure the warm Caribbean twilight. "If I knew anything about love, could it be with you?" she asks on the teasing "Crush." This song is exemplary of FEMI's ability to weave the story and the music, with a sexy groove and delicate chimes supporting a lyrical quest for vulnerability and reciprocity.
Given the progression of romance, could this track be followed by any other than "If I Knew" A song reliant on reggae-influenced rhythm and driven by a tight horn section (ala Earth, Wind & Fire), it tells of surrendering to the love that was so desired. "I Want You" is essentially its cool, sweet sequel: "This song is like a letter to my lover," FEMI says. "You realize that there is something in them that lets you know it's okay to allow love in again." "Pages" brings the album full circle, coasting on an easy rhythm to back Femi's reflections on writing, emotional freedom, and self-reliance. The track and album, gracefully ends with piano, chimes, and chirping birds. Like its pure namesake, "Sweet Water Soul" will quench thirsty spirits over and over again.