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First Play: Ndidi O, These Days

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Melody Lau

Ndidi O’s wondrously versatile voice has covered a lot of musical ground over the years, from folk and country to jazz and blues, but on her fifth studio album, These Days, she sets her eyes on something different, something that’s downright electrifying.

On opening number “Hands High,” the British Columbia native (whose full name is Ndidi Onukwulu) comes charging out the gates as she cruises over a thunderous guitar riff that’s quickly joined by stomping drums and handclaps.

These Days is bold and defiant, an open embrace of blues rock that’s, at times, a throwback to her early years fronting a rock band in New York City. But don’t let the brash production fool you: the beautiful nuances of Onukwulu’s alluring voice never get swallowed up by the rapturous noise. Instead, it coalesces into one colourful burst of energy that listeners won’t be able to resist.

Throughout the album, Onukwulu dives headfirst into tales of love and loss, and she’s unafraid to lay out her wants and needs, and she demands on “No Mercy”: “Take what I want and leave you on your knees.”

“The last time I had this much fun making a record was in 2007/2008 with The Contradictor so this was a really welcome relief,” she revealed in a press release. That joy can easily be felt all over These Days and, if you’re looking for something to brighten up your day, we highly recommend hitting play on this record.

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