Album in Focus: A Girl From Harare EP By Gemma Griffiths

From 2018 to 2022, Gemma Griffiths has been on her own unique musical journey. A journey that has seen her hone her vocal gifts through multiple genres and multiple collaborations while racking up thousands of kilometres across the continent in pursuit of inspiration and the mastering of her craft. A Girl From Harare represents the culmination of her journey so far and within the music, Gemma shows us how she's unafraid to push boundaries.

A Girl From Harare EP By Gemma Griffiths Review

It comes as her third project overall and it follows closely in the footsteps of Pamwe EP which dropped last year but it's a body of music that's broader, more confident and twice as long. Although it wasn't as highly anticipated as her debut original project Pamwe, A Girl From Harare arrived with an entourage that made Pamwe's rollout pale in comparison. In addition to a documentary by the same name that was released before the project, Gemma went on "A Girl From Harare" tour across Zimbabwe after the EP was released.

A GIRL FROM HARARE. One of my favourite things about writing this EP had to be the moments of clarity. I wanted to tell some of the stories that stuck with me during the process. Stories of people I connected with, of places I experienced, of dreams I was having. Stories of nostalgia and expectations, of mistakes and of victories. In the moments of clarity, before I wrote them down, I would just be with them. Just me and the stories. 

In terms of boxing her into one genre, I no longer quite know how to encapsulate Gemma's sound. It's principally Afro-pop but through her music, you can hear her folk music roots, what she's borrowed from Zimdancehall, a slight East African flair and an Afro Electronic House that borders on the Alternative. But whatever genre-bending sound it is Gemma has truly made it her home. A Girl From Harare EP might be her furthest from mainstream Zimbabwean sounds but it's a beautiful body of work right up with the best from her.

From Kwale the lead single on the project which carried a bit of the East-African flair to Ava who dropped right after it, it was an instant love affair of the sounds with my eardrums. As lead singles, the two tracks painted the perfect picture of the project. Ava is especially hit because of its rather playful nature and it can be best described as a dance record. It's music that you could say frees the spirit and claims you, giving you the sudden desire to dust off your dancing shoes.

City Life ft Freshlikeuhhh is another beautiful record. It rightly captures the feeling of city living, the dreary feeling of every day along with the bright sparks of the good times. Freshlikeuhhh's 40-second is somehow the perfect topping on the song you just want to put on while you take a drive. 

Don't Worry opens with, "Imma lay it out one time, boy you know you're damn fine. I want to take a drink of you like a late-night whiskey but baby I ain't got time..." and it's endlessly within the moment from that point on. From it's you could say soothing feel, to its lyricism, it's a song that fully embraces the now and it doesn't count the clock. Down is another vibrant get-up and dance record while Just My Luck casts Gemma as the hopeless romantic.

Throughout the project, different sounds and stories are beautifully interwoven together and held as one by Gemma's vocals and Charlie Kay's amazing production. Somehow through simple lyricism that speaks of the need for "a little bit of rum & raspberry", the track Raspberry hits deep. It drags you into forgotten thoughts and a little bit of rum & raspberry certainly sounds good. 

Tipo Tinto ft Lioness again displays Gemma's relationship with rum and a rum & raspberry. Tipo Tinto is a classic white rum that originates from Mozambique and it is the signature spirit in an R&R (Rum & Raspberry). The song is also just as intoxicating. Weather offers the perfect ending to A Girl From Harare. It is sensual and it has moments where it offers up the feeling of RnB. All in all, this is a project I could listen to again and again.

Greedysouth rating: 7.2/10

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