Album in Focus: Energy By Holy Ten

A month ago Holy Ten finally released his 3rd studio album Energy. The ten-track project was initially scheduled for release in April, then it was delayed for 2 months by Holy Ten for "further rewriting and re-engineering". When it finally dropped, however, it felt like it was just all of a sudden, the album didn't have any lead-up singles and the rollout was so calm it was almost silent when you compare it to Risky Life, the album that preceded it. And it's not just its release that felt like a surprise but its content.

Holy Ten Energy Album Review

Listening to Energy you get the feel of another slight pivot in sound from Holy Ten. It was not really the soft piano ballads that have become his winning recipe and what we're accustomed to from him and neither was it the trap sound that had characterized several of his single releases when the year began. It was a more gritty sound, that was more confrontational than the melancholic thought-sharing of Risky Life. Yet remove how the music sounds and look at the subject matter they talked about in isolation you'd see the same Holy Ten.

In contrast, the three albums Holy Ten has given us, seem like three different versions of him. Suicide Notes had a dark title but sounded surprisingly vibrant and uplifting, Risky Life had a title that sounded like a homage to the risks he had taken to finally achieve success and Energy has the energy of "I'm here now let's address some things".

Holy Ten has always given us just enough to wet the tongue and sometimes the music has felt like a snippet but something about Energy made it feel especially incomplete. The album opens with It's Never Easy, a track that touches deep. It's slow tempo as Holy Ten talks about the pain of depression and the struggle to find peace of mind. Now it could've been done without the electronically altered backing vocals but it's a good song. 

Kudhara Kwangu addresses the present state of Zimbabwean social media and how socialites act on the different platforms along with those that follow them. Holy Ten is just as socially conscious as ever and although the clarity & quality of the sound could be a lot better, the album gives off some bright sparks. Now for some reason, I initially wasn't too impressed by Too Scared ft Kimberley Richard but somehow after running through the album, it was the first song I returned to and pretty soon had on repeat.

Although it has its rough edges there's something so beautiful about the duet. It's the first song I thought to myself as one that was going to be a hit. Bhachi ReDior is reminiscent of Combi Inonanga Mfombi off of Risky Life and in these instances, it feels like Energy is a sort of distorted mirror image of Risky Life. 

Ka this, Ka that feels slightly more intimate and offers up what seems like an honest reflection about love and attraction. Husiku Hurefu ft Nutty O is definitely one of the stand-out tracks. Holy Ten's introspection and exploration of dreams and fears are great but what really shines is Nutty O's vocal delivery on the chorus. Ndorecover ft Crooger comes through as the absolute hustler's anthem. It has energy, and intensity and definitely requires you to be at a sold-out concert for it to be properly enjoyed.

Zvaifaya is one for the heartbroken, while The Point Iripano is upbeat and brings to mind Holy Ten's collaboration with Anita Jaxson, Appetite. There's a variety to the music and Holy tried to cater to different tastes. Yet I feel Energy deserved a bit more time on it. The album has beautiful music like Ndiri Ndega the collaboration with Feli Nandi but it all sounds a bit like offcuts from Risky Life.

The mixing & mastering could've been a lot better because the quality of the sound is not what it should be. Some tracks could've been slightly tweaked and they would've sounded so much better but overall it's a decent album. It doesn't stand out but falls with the crowd and it's not something you'd have on your Mt Rushmore but a project you remember more in passing and you run back a few tracks.

Greedysouth rating: 6.5/10

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