Music Review: Dela – Public Demand

I have said it and will repeat, Dela’s album Paukwa is one of the best Kenyan albums ever. But I am not here to discuss Paukwa. Dela released her latest album, 9 years after her first one, titled Public Demand on 30th April. The album has 15 songs and is 53 minutes long.

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In an interview, Dela talked of rebranding from Afro Soul to Afro Pop and listening to Public Demand makes this quite clear. The music is different from Paukwa and some may mistakenly assume that it is because of moving from Penya to Taurus Music. But this is not the case according to Dela who says, according to this interview, that she does not want to be boxed in a category. I respect that. With that in mind, I had to listen to this album as a stand alone without the thought that this is the same person who gave us the phenomenal Paukwa (She was 19!!!!! at the time).

Dela can sing. That she is vocally talented is obvious and undeniable as you listen to Public Demand. From the first song, which starts with Dela singing the Kenyan national anthem. To be honest, I expected her to do something with it, change it up a bit but she showcases her voice while singing it in the usual way.

I think I should come right off and say that I didn’t enjoy the singles she had released prior to the album coming out – Mafeelings, Adabu and still, listening to the album, I’m not a fan.

Almost all the songs start with her “Taurus Musik” which I am assuming is akin to Darkchild and DJ Mustard having their names in their songs.

Ahadi Zako, the second song in the album is a fast paced afro pop song which is one of the songs I believe showcases Dela’s move to the genre without diluting her essence (unlike Adabu and Mafeelings in my opinion).

Paza Sauti, which starts with a snippet of the national anthem, is a call to Kenyans to speak about what is going on in the country – a song that is so timely and should be released as a single sooner rather than later.

Te Le Mi, a duet with the absolutely brilliant Adekunle Gold is a stand out song in the album, I can even go so much to say that it is my best song on the album. I wish it was longer.

Mama, the lone song almost entirely sung in vernacular is beautiful, but I’ve been known to root for Kenyan songs not done in English so I am very here for this song.

Listen to this album with an open mind and don’t compare it to Paukwa. Her voice is fantastic and I get what she is trying to do and wish her the best. I’d like to see how she does this album live. I might just attend a concert.

Standout songs: Te Le Mi, Paza Sauti, Mama, the first 34 seconds of Controle and the Africa (Salif Keita Tribute)

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