Ghanaian based Funkmata are pushing their latest singles as evidence of their desire to craft a new form of African music, one with a cosmopolitan pedigree embracing Western influences, and “Is It True?”, along with the instrumental track “Realpayback”, are definitely steps in that direction. Fans of American and European pop/funk/soul will recognize a lot familiar in these two songs, but the unique voice of Funkmata emerges as well. The song “Is It True?” manifests that individuality greater than “Realpayback” due to, at least in part, songwriter Robert Bannerman’s vocal and lyrical presence. Bannerman, a writer away from the music world as well, brings a surprising literary sensibility to the lyrics, usually perfunctory in tracks like this, and the melancholic mood sharply contrasts with the song’s musical character.
The light, near-brush like drumming gives the song a weird quasi-shuffle quality that I like while some bright electric piano lines jump and dance over the rhythmic foundation. Funkmata keeps the pace brisk, but never overwhelming, and Bannerman proves adept at matching his voice with the arrangement rather than posing it in juxtaposition. Some may thing he sounds like a limited vocalist on first listen, but if you pay close attention, Bannerman raises the emotive stakes more than once in the song, but does so in a nuanced way more self-conscious singers rarely follow. I get the strong feeling that Bannerman and Roy C had very definite ideas in mind for what they wanted the vocal to accomplish and the singing shapes itself around the song accordingly. The addition of some sweet scat backing vocals helps make this an even sweeter listen and Funkmata keeps things relatively brief, never overextending the song’s appeal for audiences.
“Realpayback”, however, runs over five minutes long and shows Funkmata can unreel a potent instrumental, take their time, and never lose you. This song is a musician’s wet dream come true – they’ve obviously snared some five star musical talents to round off the project and the guitar, bass, drums, and keys powering this song pull off some jaw-dropping exchanges over the course of those five minutes that are never showy, but spectacular nonetheless. The horn section is a big highlight of this song – Funkmata brings more than a single sound into the mix and the dialogue between the horns alone makes this all the more kinetic and memorable for listeners. “Realpayback” definitely lives up to the band’s billing as being a cosmopolitan act with strong funk and soul influences.
These two singles are more than enough to convince me that Funkmata is on the right path. Robert Bannerman and Roy C have surveyed the scene and found there’s a lack of acts like Funkmata in the modern music world and these songs are the first step towards redressing the imbalance. They are winning compositions and entertaining performances certain to appeal to both casual and devoted music fans alike. “Is it True?” and “Realpayback” don’t attempt remaking the musical wheel, but they speak with a voice that’s all their own.
FUNKMATA’s music has been heard all over the world due to the radio plugging services offered by Musik Radio Promotions. Learn more – https://musikandfilm.com/