Young, gifted and African, Suzy Eises has a very mild demeanour. Almost unassuming to an extent. It doesn’t understate her presence yet you could take it for granted. Until she starts to showcase what she can do and the goosebumps will tell you all you need to know.
Her debut, self titled ‘Suzy Eises’ shook the Namibian industry upon release. Although I gave this album a listen before, I was influenced by Suzy Eises’ Namibian Annual Music Awards 2018 ‘Album of the Year’ and ‘Best Newcomer’ wins to give this body of work a review worthy of its stature. I want to celebrate Suzy for doing something amazing!
The album kicks off with an up tempo ‘Moving’ that boasts a scintillating combination of instruments where the guitar, saxophone, drums, kicks and strings all form this beautiful melody. The main genre leading this has a kwaito/house influence. Considering how big kwaito is in Namibia having kept the genre alive since South Africa decided to move on, Moving is a fitting opener. This song is a true dance floor filler! I can picture the crowd swaying from side to side to the easy rhythm.
Songs such as ‘Africa, Stand Up’, ‘Lowkey’ and ‘Only You’ offered a cross between Afropop and Afrobeats which in its own way came as a bit of a surprise. I found this refreshing and could see how she did this to connect with a wider audience. I mean when you think of the saxophone, jazz is the genre that comes to mind first. Maybe such is my ignorance but Suzy managed to go beyond the expectation by daring to be different. There are some jazzy numbers on this album, however, you get so much more.
What I could pick up on is that being a saxophonist allowed Suzy Eises to express her musicality without being boxed in. Vocalists may not quite have as much wiggle room in this case. Her saxophone lead fits into multiple genres, adding something special to her arsenal. Suzy herself has said that she listens to almost every genre of music out there. This album could have gone in many different directions. To that effect, it is very different from a vocal lead where in this case, a unique appreciation for the saxophone can be found. It all adds to what makes Suzy Eises a special talent. Firstly, in commercial music, saxophone players have typically been seen mostly as team players within a band grabbing a solo every now and again. For Suzy to challenge that and create a name for herself as a solo artist, especially in Africa, is no mean feat. Besides that she is known worldwide and has performed in various countries so her star is shining brighter than ever.
Suzy Eises can skillfully slow things down to the tune of ‘Free’ featuring Simon Oslender and equally turn it up on a roadtrip essential like ‘Friday’ where she flexes her instrument range. Such is the versatility of Suzy’s work that there is something on this album for everyone. To accommodate the audience in such a fashion while maintaining a balance to the entire project is masterful here. The fusion of different sounds is expertly nuanced and Suzy understands when to control the pace to give a song that edge. It comes as no surprise that she has also worked with two of the best producers to ever come out of Namibia, DJ KBoz and Sam-E Lee Johns. South Africa’s DJ Maphorisa also makes his presence felt with a strong performance on the hit single, ‘Only You’. The Blaq Boy touch is unmistakable and to hear the man give a great vocal performance made me give this the thumbs up. On an album of many jewels, this was one of my favourite.
At 8 songs, the album is neither too long or too short. The creative direction in compiling it at this length is part of the genius: keep people wanting more! As much as I love music in general I never considered that one day I would listen to an album by a saxophonist and enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed the self-titled debut by Suzy Eises. For her to win Best Album and Best Newcomer on her debut is testament to the fruitful journey of success ahead of her. This album is a gem and worth getting a copy to introduce yourself to a masterclass in quality music. That is why she won and why you should listen!