Ordinarily I would find it difficult to believe Christmas is just over a month away, but listening this morning to ‘Merry Christmas, Darling’, the new album from Timi Dakolo, I’m ready for it. Lay it on me!
‘Merry Christmas, Darling’ is eleven tracks long, and features guest appearances by Emeli Sandé on the title track, Kenny G (‘Decorate The Night’), Eric Benét (‘White Christmas’), Laura Bretan on ‘Silent Night’, and ‘Hallelujah’, with The Eben Voices Of Gabon Choir. It’s filled with both firm favourites and instant classics, and is sure to bring the family together at the most special time of the year.
Timi Dakolo, winner of the inaugural Voices Of West Africa season, in 2007, has established for himself a successful musical career in his home country of Nigeria, but is sure to break into the international charts with this album. Released through Virgin EMI/Capitol Records, the album was recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London, Capitol Studios Los Angeles, and additional studios in Libreville, Budapest, and Lagos.
Mr Ali Bongo Ondimba was the visionary behind the project, and he co-executively produced the album with Efe Ogbeni. ‘Merry Christmas, Darling’ also features production by Humberto Gatica, as well as award-winning jazz composer Frederic Michel Gassita.
Timi’s stunning vocals will wow everyone; they’re perfect even without the featured performers, but it’s understandable that the producers felt they might need bigger names to help promote the record. With any luck, Timi will be allowed to carry his next international release on his own name alone – I for one look forward to it as I believe he has a huge future ahead of him.
It’s difficult to choose just one highlight from this album, but if I had to, it would have to be ‘Hallelujah’. Timi’s been given free reign to show just what he’s capable of in this track: his passion is evident in whatever he sings – the highs, the lows, the soft parts and the sections where he absolutely belts it out.
Special commendation must also go to the final track, ‘Where Did We Go Wrong (Cry)’, which starts out like a cross between an Afro-rhythm and a traditional Celtic piece. Big horns and penny whistles, accompanied by soaring strings perfectly set the tone for Timi’s simply stunning vocals. He knows exactly how much to give, and equally the value of empty space in providing atmosphere.