Album in Focus: Life, Love & Lessons By Aurah Ariko

Life, Love & Lessons is the sophomore album of the gifted Canada-based songstress Aurah Ariko. It comes on the heels of her debut The Gift and the two projects couldn't be more different. While The Gift was short and cocooned within the Afrobeats sound, Life, Love & Lessons is broader and more than twice in length. 

Aurah Ariko

The album is aptly named Life, Love & Lessons delivers exactly that, with the emphasis being on love. It features 16 tracks and although eclectic in nature, one of the central themes is her Zimbabwean heritage. Life, Love & Lessons puts Aurah's voice centre stage. In some moments she stretches it to its limits, and in others she displays its versatility by alternating her cadence, leaving us no doubt about her boundless talent. 

Aurah Ariko - Life, Love & Lessons Album Review

Humba pays homage to Aurah's roots and her bloodline. It's a song that speaks of a destiny that comes from who she is and what runs in her veins. The track has smooth melodies and it is enriched by its multilingual nature. It is confident and proud, with gentleness on the ear.

Humba humba, humba makombe
The name is humba humba, humba makombe
Royalty runs through my veins
Loyalty is the name of the game
Humba humba, humba makombe
The name is humba humba, humba makombe
Royalty runs through my veins
Loyalty is the name of the game

24/7 featuring Shayne is a love song heavy on the vibes, that carries an Afrobeats feel to it. Aurah is sensational with Shayne equally so, and it makes for a great duet. The song has a catchy song, that makes reference to Neria, a well-known female character from the film and soundtrack by Oliver Mtukudzi by the same name.

24/7 with you (yeah) 
Ndinenge ndakanamira
Handife ndakusiya my girl
I go pull up in your area
In your area
In your area
I no go treat you like you Neria
Like you Neria
Like you Neria

Can't bring me down is of a similar nature in sound to 24/7, and it is brimming with positivity in not only the lyricism but how the music hits the ear.

Celebration featuring Maturike is a marriage of soulful Afropop and Dancehall. Maturike brings a gruffness that offsets Aurah's beautiful soft vocals. It's a song about celebrating and overcoming hardships. From the tempo to the chants and the high notes, it's infectious. A close favourite of mine just behind Ndanakirwa.

Ndanakirwa features Tocky Vibes and so far it's been the standout success in terms of airplay from this project. The track is the very best of the Afropop sound, with a vibrant tempo and Tocky & Aurah feeding off each other like longtime collaborators. As the Zimbabwean adage goes "Hatingapedze album rese tichichema" and Ndanakirwa is the happy song a great album needs. 

It doesn't tell a particular story or support a certain narrative but it's simply a song about a fictional situation that calls for joy and enjoyment.

Aye Aye ini varume ndanakirwa
Ini varume nda-ndanakwa
Aye Aye ini varume ndatapirwa
Bhebhi pawapinda zvatapira

Karma leans towards contemporary RnB, with a retro feel to its upbeat nature. Aurah's vocals alternate in cadence from being rapper-esque to soulful. As the title says the song is about karma, it talks about betrayal and broken relationships.

Uri wangu, you're mine, is a song that celebrates love. It talks about proving those who doubted wrong and having a love that makes you inseparable. It is joyous and bubbly, with the sensation of deep passion behind the words. Kure talks about the journey of love and how far Aurah has come with her lover. You get the feeling that these are not just stories coming from Aurah but a lived reality. 

In the acoustic piece, Kufema talks about being alive as the most important thing. Aurah expresses a need for quality time, as her lover gets lost in the race of life and she just wants to remind him that it's okay as long as we're still breathing.

Famba Mudiwa is a Jazz infused Afropop track, that displays Aurah's protective nature. Who Decided is a song that poses questions of a somewhat existential nature. It has an easy tempo with beautiful vocals. It's another song that offers us a window into Aurah. There's a sense of hopelessness that she puts forward but it is drowned out by how the beauty of her delivery distances you from the lyricism.

All through this album Aurah lets us know that she's a hopeless romantic at heart. Wakadaro the beautiful duet with Mbeu, the soulful This Story, and the beautiful Forever & Always, love have been showcased in many different facets. She has blended matters of the heart with stories of spirituality and her Zimbabwean heritage like on Paivapo, Rima Remade and Mama Ju The Healer.

Life, Love & Lessons is a beautiful Afro-fusion project to listen to. Its cohesive nature shows that it was compiled with great care and it presents the very best of Aurah Ariko. 

Greedysouth rating: 7.4/10

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