Not every artist finds the task of creating something beautiful out of something challenging easy. That’s certainly not the case for Tokunbo. Although this kind of artistic process often results in masterpieces, the journey alone is hard and lonesome. Award Winning German- Nigerian Songstress Tokunbo has gone from finding huge success as the vocalist of Tok Tok Tok, with global tours and high-profile concerts alongside Dee Dee Bridgewater, Gregory Porter and with NDR Pops Orchestra and the Babelsberg Filmorchestra as credits. With the release of Golden Days via Inakustik, award-winning singer Tokunbo delivers a warm-hearted blend of folk and jazzy pop, with a cheeky hint of country. The 11 track album captures the spirit of classic 70s songwriters like The Carpenters, Joni Mitchell and Carole King, whilst adding layers of captivating guitar, shimmering soundscapes and wonderful poly -rhythms. To put it in her own words, Tokunbo says “I wanted to write the album that the world needs right now; an album full of optimism and assurance”. That it is, and done with such grace and beauty at a time where things for the artist were unpredictable.
The album channels the earthy calm of India Aire whilst taking on a poppier version of Lianne La Havas; I’m convinced it’s Tokunbo’s own personal grace which gives the songs that much more insight into her own intimate world. Her exquisitely warm voice on each track feels like a smile from her heart, and the sound quality overall is mirrored by the audio- engineering of Marc Ebermann. Opening with the title track ‘ Golden Days ‘ is a strong autobiographical reflection of the artist revealing she was already ‘ sailing through her fears’ in a nostalgic verse to a lamenting chorus of still missing the ‘ golden days’. Belonging is a recurrent theme of the album . ‘ Home Again’ is a momentary glimpse to the days of carefree youth. Performed by a wonderful rhythm section it’s a masterful mix of Woodstock- inspired harmony with Carole King’s signature ‘question like’ choru, particularly with the poignant chorus ‘ Can we make it before we become a blur ?’. Gorgeous ! Diving head on into a bold, bluesy take into love’s darker side ‘Forgive’ is an almost satirical take on a old lover that did nothing for the singer’s heart; so in a sense , those beautiful bv’s on the track and ‘county ‘ guitar juxtapose the singer’s actual sentiment: it’s actually easy to forgive someone that didn’t give much. ‘ Near and Far’ , the most acoustic track is probably my favourite off the album. It feels like a mantra for all women to be honest; a celebration of some of the attributes we embrace as we grow into ourselves as leader, maker, mother , and compassionate listener.
The journey to self- acceptance is far from easy, so the next track ‘ Hey Island’ is. are minder to be at peace with all sides of our own personalities. A mesmerising ballad , it’s a reminder of the sacrifices we have to take when making decisions which can leave us feeling ultimately helpless. ‘ Give me one more excuse to leave’ is a truly heart-wrenching reminder of the kind of psychological abuse we fail to recognise and walk away from. I somehow feel this could be the soundtrack to award-winning series’ Maid’; it’s that relevant, and ever so powerful. Continuing with the theme of reckoning with our darker selves and circumstances, Tokunbo draws the ‘Curtains’ on loss and change, reassuring herself that eventually she’ll ‘ feel safe again ‘ . You can hear a very reflective and pained sorrow in her voice with this track, sending chills down your spine with a reminder that we’ve all somehow been there. ‘ See you Fly’ is a mother’s own piece of advice to her song, asking him to promise ‘ never to lose faith’ as he’ll never be alone. I’m inclined to remind the reader here that it also be a beautiful resolute acceptance of the singer deciding to focus on her family amidst the height of her career; and that’s more than ok. ‘ On The Fence’ is about listening one’s intuition and faith . ‘You can always change the avenue ‘ Tokunbo sings, convinced that we’re always going to be tested, the point is how do we swim against the tide and handle it all ? i can’t help but genuinely feel her own faith and her resilience with this song. She truly feels like a shining beacon of hope, gentle reminding us to be our own guide in these unpredictable times. ‘ Ray’ is musically the freshest sounding track on the entire album. Starting with an unusually soothing didgeridoo and a pop -blues percussive drive, it meanders on Tokunbo’s soulful voice and confidence as she playfully draws on a young female in love, but the right kind, able to help her get back in the ray of her own spotlight. ‘ House of Cards’ feels like a jazzier Elvis Costello nod, showcasing Tobunko’s more refined songwriting. It feels like a song of our time, speaking to the listener going through the motions of climbing up the ladders of success, still, it’s all but a ‘ accolades on the mantelpiece, gathering dust’ and ‘glory past it’s peak’. A woeful tale to remind us of true success : joy and human connection. A perfect thing really, as I may remind the reader that this album was composed during lockdown and hence feels like a reminder of the isolation we all felt. The album ends with an ode to faith and love. ‘ Miles Away’ is the kind of sog you can pack in the suitcases of our hearts, whenever we feel miles away, again, we just have to look to how far we’ve come, and who we chose to take with us whether here or elsewhere .
Do yourself a favour friends. If you need a sincere reminder of how brilliant you are, grab your favorite beverage, switch off from the world a bit, and put on this album. Golden Days by Tokunbo is out everywhere.