“Take it easy, take it slow/ We’ve got so far to go.” Nigerian-Canadian musician Sadé Awele begins her EP Time Love Journey with this mantra. It’s a fitting opening to a collection of smooth tracks that go down easy, and certainly indicate big things to come from Awele.
The Vancouver-based vocalist seamlessly blends jazz, R&B and hip-hop on the five-song EP, inspired too by her Yoruba and Ibo heritage and afro-soul rhythms. Throughout the EP she sounds confident and in control, guiding the listener along a neo-soul journey.
Musically, Time Love Journey alternates between live instrumentation and more electronic-based production. The live band is key on jazzier tracks like “Take It Easy” and “Care,” propulsive drums and slick bass licks driving the songs forward, while Awele’s voice layers overtop. On the more relaxed “Rebound,” Awele briefly shows off her skills at rapping too, before her harmonies swoop back in.
The arrangements are always full and lush, calling to mind the poetic style of R&B musician Jamila Woods. The sound, though, is very much Awele’s, her voice distinct and upfront. Across the five songs, Awele sings about fraught love, self-possession and determination. On “Care” she speaks to someone she knows she can’t be responsible for (“I wish I could stay/ take your troubles away”) while on “Rebound” she wonders about the intentions of a lover. “Am I just an image of the person that you wanted?” she asks. The song doesn’t sound anxious or distressed, but reflective, thoughtful.mThis is all part of the journey, after all.
Even when she sings of uncertainty, Awele sounds like she knows what she’s doing. At the end of “Care,” after the other instruments have stopped, Awele vocalizes over a bare beat. She’s showing off and having fun. “Sadé, you can stop,” someone tells her, and her reply encompasses the spirit of the whole EP: “I’m in my zone.” –Review by Alison Lang