This comprises two songs from her first album, “TAYDK,” and five from her most recent album, “Fountain Baby.”
“I think we’re in the groove now,” Amaarae laughs to her bandmates midway through her Tiny Desk concert. As one of the few breaks she takes in a 20-minute set, the singer-songwriter uses this pause to check the energy and drip of her musical consiglieres.
While Amaarae and her soprano command attention in a distressed, rust-colored trench and corset top, the 11-piece band complement their star by rocking T-shirts of the same color palette embroidered with standout lyrics from the songs she’s performing: “See my essence, feel my blessings,” “Wasted eyes on you”, “I like coffee with some head in the morning.”
Born in the Bronx but hailing from Accra, Ghana, Amaarae’s appearance on NPR Music’s Black Music Month lineup proves how far the sounds of West Africa have stretched to influence the U.S. and, more implicitly, just how much the music defies catch-all labels like “Afrobeats.” Fountain Baby, the album that’s home to most of the songs Amaarae performs at the Desk, represents what she does best.
While it may be categorized as “pop” by streaming services, as an experience, Fountain Baby is an overflowing stream of genre-swerving liquid dopamine, lulling and surprising its listener in waves.
Pulling influence from a grab bag of global incantations, Amaarae makes African percussion flirt with baile funk and alté, pop punk and garage, resulting in one of most triumphant albums and Tiny Desk Concerts of 2023 so far.
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