I like Abi Lakew. She’s attractive and she’s a good singer. Unfortunately, she’s not a great singer. Some of her songs like Desta Keremela and Man Ale are radio hits but the lyrics, it appears that, lack sophistication. Her album (her only, I guess) in which this song is included has tracks all very pleasant, and unsurprisingly inoffensive, but none of these arrangements exactly break new grounds. When you hear them for the first time, they sound so sweet and pleasing. But they could get a little irritating after a repeat or two.
It’ been a year and half since the album was out. In her debut work, she managed to blend the traditions of her Ethiopia heritages with her Western adopted approach to music making. The Dallas-based artist performed in Addis last year in support of children’s cardiac hospital construction, which is a noble cause, where unfortunately I was unable to attend. But friends told me she is best enjoyed live. I have read interviews where she said her time in Addis gave her a taste for Addis life. Local papers and magazines liked her, giving her wildly enthusiastic coverage to her concert and album. There was a long profile of her in My Fashion and even Rose magazine named her “Person of the year” for her music and charitable work she has done in connection with the cardiac hospital which she later said was an accolade that filled her with a mixture of pride and bewilderment.
Recently, she has released a masniko remix- “Awo Bel” (Tell me that you love me) with certain A-Faudra and a single “Olla” featuring Sam Solomon with a simple rhythm and lyric but beautifully displays Abi’s talent for soft, fluid vocals with constant subject longing for companionship and devotion. She maintained her own easily identifiable sound while changing style. But what I like most about her is she has few affections or offstage pretensions.
Abi has the talent and courage to be a much better singer, if she works with a better material. I’ve learned from her interviews that she has skillful collaborators like Abraham Wolde. I will be watching for her next album, which I’ve heard will be coming soon.
(Photo by Benyam Mengesha)