C’nky Siwela – My Name is in the Echo


South African born C’nky Siwela bucked conventional wisdom, wouldn’t take no for an answer, emigrated from his homeland for an uncertain American future, and triumphed mightily with the release of his first single, “Distant Cry”. The second release from Siwela, “My Name is in the Echo” expands upon the possibilities of the earlier effort by incorporating a wider musical attack, further personalizing the lyrical content, and refining the multimedia nature of his new work. The single’s video is a superbly shot and affective narrative about the power of love and, while Siwela’s song doesn’t literally conform to the cinematic narrative we’re offered, it nonetheless is the same sort of testament to love’s power. The song never overstays its welcome and excels, in no small part, thanks to its first class production values and the good sense it demonstrates to present a balanced sonic front while still highlighting Siwela’s rightly praised skills and musical intelligence.

His voice has a highly melodic quality and any hints of throaty, gritty gravitas are absent. In a sense, he combines the best of two worlds – his tone and timber are pure pop, but Siwela upends listener’s expectations with his jazz sensibilities. His phrasing takes sharp, unexpected turns and finds new pressure points in the stress patterns of individual lines. He doesn’t attempt to push himself over at the expense of the track and, instead, seems to play very close attention to the guitarist.

The guitar work brings together bright, funk-edged fills with brief swaths of lead work that add exclamation points to an array of passages. While electronics give the song a lot of color, it’s the guitars and tempo that is the twin driving engines of the song. The tempo has the requisite relentless quality and will surely prod any room of people to shake their ass injudiciously. Beyond its aspirations towards something higher, beyond its musical sophistication, Siwela clearly maintains his focus on a final, central goal – to entertain the listening and music buying public with his top shelf music.

The lyrical material he’s working with has a strongly inspirational quality and affirms the value of never surrendering who you are, no matter what adversity might befall you. Siwela certainly elevates it higher than the common pop lyric can usually travel and, in concert with the music and his voice, some of the lyrics take on the genuine air of performative poetry. “My Name is in the Echo” is a remarkable achievement for the genre and a certain single of the year candidate, despite its late arrival. Siwela has an indefinable quality as both a songwriter and performer and suggests, somehow, to me that he’s only scratched the surface of his skills. His debut full-length will be released in early 2016 and, after hearing this track, I am comfortable saying that release will, as well, likely rank as an album of the year candidate. Excellent work.


William Elgin