Desola Intimacy Album
Desola grew up in Nigeria with her Mum in a home that she described as non-religious. She was invited to a church and started to attend regularly attracted by the music. Aged 18 she moved to the UK and after a while found herself in a situation where she had forgotten about Church and forgotten God was with her as she went through some personal struggles. Then one day out of the blue God put a song into her heart, that song became the first of many, you can read more of Desola’s story of hope in an interview I did with her in 2016. That first collection of songs led to the independently released album “Rest” from 2014 and now she has released her follow up album “Intimacy”.
The titles of the albums do tell us a little about Desola’s journey of the past few years. Coming out of the time of stress “Rest” was about just being with God, this album now takes us beyond rest to a place and a desire to know Him more in our day to day walk. The first track is a simple Gospel style worship song which really focuses on the nature of God and our praise to Him. This song just brings praise to God for His qualities as she describes God as “Incredible” and many more qualities of the God that we serve. Desola takes a strong lead vocal in the tradition of best Gospel leaders with a chorus in the background just bringing these words to life. Things are a little more chilled out for the opening of “May Your Kingdom Come” as we long to see this happen in our world and our lives, but this quickly moves forward as she expresses what this will mean for us when we see God’s kingdom come. This track has already been heard by many as it was one of the songs from this project that has already been released as a single.
After these two powerful songs I think I need to stop and just talk about what is the biggest surprise here so far on this album….Desola’s vocal. It is incredibly explosive on these tracks, the vocal rises above the backing elements which is a full choral backing in “Incredible” and it’s not just loudness, it’s the raw powerful sound that is coming, and it is something that I did not expect! I think this is definitely a case of not judging a book by it’s cover!
The mood lightens up now with a great Soul sound as “Hey Jesus” asks Him to order her steps. This is about asking for Jesus to show us the way to move forward, the lyrics also mix in Bible passages. Mixing in piano and organ along with a backing choir this song should get you smiling and moving. This same feeling continues into “Here I Am” which is about pressing into God, but bringing a message of surrender to God’s will and what He wants in our lives. These songs consider a similar theme, theme that often comes with deep reflection and reverential worship, because we want the guidance, but we don’t like giving up control and surrendering our lives. Desola has made these sentiments not something that we should grudgingly do, but they are a joyful choice!
“Jesus Save Me” is another track that has already been released as a single. The song captures something of the state of our world with houses and countries divided on themselves, many people stuck in religion, but this song talks about the need for a personal relationship with Jesus. We need Him to save us, to rescue us and refresh us and there is a direct appeal to Him to restore our peace in our lives. There have been many songs titled “The River” in Christian music, its a familiar picture of the living water so that we will never thirst again, but this has a unique feel. A lot of the arrangements of this album have been quite tight and narrow, utilising the instruments and the chorus vocals but with “The River” we are introduced to a huge openness to the sound that works really well, small touches, little echoes and the more open electronic synth background and the climbing progression of ‘aahs’ backed by the organ really feels like something different and I just want to dive into what God is doing in this river!
It is clear that the second half of this album is where the songs are really warming up to this theme. We’ve had the plea for guidance, the joyful surrender, the appeal for the wider world and now with “The River” and the next track “Take Me” are about just being with God, pressing in to knowing Him more and better. None of these topics have given any reason for less than joyful worship and that continues in “Dada Didi”, which may be Urhobo, or it may just sound good and I am not sure which it is! This is a faith-building song which cleverly reminds us that God is not a man, that whatever He has said it will happen. This is really pressing in to the promises and the strength of our God who we have already acknowledges is “Incredible”. Again many of the lyrics are lifted directly from the Bible, but there is also a reminder that our words also have power and we can speak life over ourselves.
Having spent a lot of time in the Gospel and Soul sections for this album, “Heaven Knocking” moves into a relaxed Reggae vibe before giving a nod back to her cultural roots with the track “Oghene Doh” which literally means “Thank You God” in Urhobo. Thankfully for those of you (including me) who aren’t fluent in Nigerian languages much of this track is in English and this song is very much a celebration song. This takes many images and bits from the book of Revelation and the soaring vocals in English and Yoruba and the background and bigger sound, not quite on the scale of “The River” really give this the feeling of worship of people from different tribes and tongues as we celebrate the coming King together.
I don’t really know what I was expecting from this album, but I wasn’t expecting to be bowled over in the way that I have been. The quality of the vocal from Desola leading each track is consistent throughout, and there is a strength that comes through in many of the tracks, but its never overpowering. One thing that this album has is diversity, from one song to the next the styles change while the theme of pressing into God deepens as the album progresses. For me “The River” is the track that really stands out, but the production on many of these tracks feel a lot bigger and, dare I say, better budget, than I expected!
When I met Desola I was moved by her story of how God was working in her life at that point, clearly God has continued the good work that He has been doing and led her to this point. She told me she never had any desire to be an artist, but enjoyed singing in the choir, this is where God stepped in with His plan and her faithfulness has brought her to this release and I for one am so glad she has stayed the course because this album is a real winner and I think it is sure to win more awards for Desola this year.