Unmasking Sola Allyson’s ‘Iri’

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Iyke Bede

For over a decade and a half, folk musician Sola Allyson remains consistent in her style of song delivery: soulful with rich indigenous influences. This formulaic pattern is affected in all her past seven albums, and more recently, her eighth album ‘Iri’.

‘Iri’, an eight-track album, arrives just a year after the release of ‘Imuse’. According to the singer, the album was birthed from a place of curiosity to discover self and find renewal in her personal life and career.

“For me, music is not just about singing.” Allyson remarked as she prepared for her concert ‘An Evening with Sola Allyson’ at Terra Kulture. She continued. “I don’t like the attention, but I find myself getting the attention. More like being the center of attention. But inside me, I keep asking, ‘what’s next?’”

Describing the album’s making process, Allyson disclosed that she was inspired by different life’s experiences she terms ‘seasons’. Depending on the particular process she goes through, each track is impacted differently as can be seen with the verve that defines ‘Tani’, to the rhythmic soothing pace set by drums on ‘Child’, or the uplifting nature of ‘Mimo’ provided by the choral arrangement. In all, she retains the primary goal of sending a gospel message.

“My songs talks about the different functionalities of the human spiritual journey,” she said. “The whole essence of the album is me asking for a renewal. And it is me knowing that I was not the person I was. I have grown – evolved. I am getting better. One thing I want to explain is that when I do a song, I would have received and passed that ‘season’ before releasing the songs [as] an album.”

Despite amassing good followings in the industry with her music, she noted some challenges that come with getting negative feedback on her use of the Yoruba vernacular. However, she remarked making minor adjustments by incorporating English language into songs on her current album. This criticism also extends to other aspects of her song making process, too.

“The controversy about me now, is that some people say ‘she is not gospel because I sing predominantly in Yoruba and my music doesn’t have any religious undertone.”

Multiple times, she reiterates that her music isn’t religious; instead, she terms it as being ‘spiritual’. To her, the message on her song on this album should have a certain touch of mainstream appeal that would make it easy for anyone to connect with and internalize the tenets in her songs despite any language barrier they may experience.