One can never get tired of Freshlyground. Their seventh and latest album, “Can’t Stop” comes off the back of a fan-driven crowd-funding campaign and features Karen Zoid and Oliver Mtukudzi. The long-awaited offering sees their sound moving towards distinctive electro-pop experimentalism.
The album is awash in newer, somewhat more Western influences than their previous leanings, synth strains and lilted vocals steering the Afro-pop sound. It’s catchy, it’s fresh and it still encompasses much of what we have long loved about the group. Zolani Mahola’s honeyed vocals are ripe and ready, glazing the tracks with an easy familiarity as the album opens on the light kwaito-esque leanings of ‘Banana Republic’.
Their latest single, ‘BLCK GRLS’, is an ode of the South African black woman at large, in the form of a delightfully tongue-in-cheek party anthem track, as Zolani cries, “But I know you won’t sit down and take it / ‘Cause you’ll grab that mould and have to break it.”
The title track finds it’s feet in sultry, whispered opening, while ‘Coming Over’ follows suit. The ever-necessary swooning love song comes in the chiming form of ‘Makes Me Happy’ – and African roots surface with baritone, percussive vigour in ‘Mna Nalamgenge’, while ‘Ndiyak’khumbula’ is rooted in a simplistic earthy sound.
‘Refugee’ is heartfelt and gently political, ‘Stimela’ is a synth-infused, kwaito-esque dance anthem which wraps things up with apt vigour. This is an album which explores the familiar nuances of the powerhouse household name we have known and loved since 2002, while navigating a refreshingly contemporary new-found path.
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Listen to the album on Apple Music.