Not content to merely follow in his father’s footsteps, Femi Kuti continues to expand his musical palette with his latest studio release, Day By Day, a hybrid of Afro-pop, jazz and urban influences. The album has been a long time coming: seven years since his last studio album Fight To Win and four years since the live Africa Shrine, on which he recorded early versions of three of the songs on this new album. Femi might shun the 24-minute diatribes favoured by his father – indeed “One Two” could be the shortest Afrobeat track ever – but in many other ways Day By Day is a return to the glory days of Nigeria’s big bands, of wailing organs, frantic polyrhythms and behemoth horn sections playing against each other. Yet now the palette is broader. “Do You Know” and “They Will Run” are undeniably jazz. “You Better Ask Yourself,” “Oyimbo” and “Eh Oh” carry the air of lost messages from Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield. And then there is the title track, infused with gospel, suffering and ghostly echoes of work songs from the early 20th century. Classic Afrobeat, classic Kuti. You can tell that the long layoff has inspired Femi. He is upbeat, enthusiastic and raring to go again. “Everybody is back in training now,” he smiles, “we have to re-establish my music. We have to come out and play it live, because the record industry is in such a bad shape, we are all suffering… Luckily,” he laughs, “the African man is used to suffering.”
On November 18th, Day by Day will be released on American shores by leading independent label Downtown Records’ newly launched imprint, Mercer Street – Mercer Street was created as a vibrant outlet for eclectic adult-oriented and world music artists.