Originated in Ghana
Having released the album Kalba to huge critical acclaim earlier this year – with BBC 6Music mainstays like Gilles Peterson, Cerys Matthews and Tom Ravenscroft fully on board – Wah Wah 45s bring you the final single from this unique cross-continental project, fronted by Ghanain xylophonist Isaac Birituro and Leeds based sing-songwriter and Grammy nominated producer Sonny Johns, AKA The Rail Abandon.
Highlife as a genre of music, is usually associated with Nigeria, but in fact it originated in Ghana in the early 20th century. The track itself uses the trademark jazzy horn riffs and electric guitars you might expect, but the influence of previous collaborator Ali Farke Toure is more evident in Sonny’s guitar playing than the highlife tradition is, giving it something of a different feel.
The idea of mixing of cultures is is at the heart of the album, but on Highlife it’s particularly pertinent with the style of music being African traditional music influenced by Western jazz.
It serves as a reflection of Sonny’s experiences whilst recording the album in Kalba, Ghana, and seeing how people live very different lives with different struggles, but equally with different benefits; how significant the here and now is; how distance can make something feel insignificant; how there is more than one way of doing something; and sometimes just because you’re used to something doesn’t mean it’s right… or wrong.
Remix duties come courtesy of Wah Wah 45s label boss, Adam Scrimshire, hot on the heels of his fourth album, Listeners, and his first remix for the label (or for anyone!) in quite some time. Scrimshire’s remix keeps things respectfully organic and bring some of the sounds that he’s been been exploring with his recent projects.
Warm Fender Rhodes wrap around Sonny’s melancholic vocals with club friendly drums and bold brass calling you on to the dance floor.
Erica McKoy, Worldwide Daily, Worldwide FM
Stuart Maconie, The Freak Zone, BBC 6Music
Gideon Coe, BBC 6Music
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