Our First Impressions Of Amaarae’s Sophomore Album ‘Fountain Baby’
an enchanting mix of ethereal vocals and eccentric production
an enchanting mix of ethereal vocals and eccentric production
The last time we saw Amaarae in album mode was November 2020 following the release of her debut project, ‘The Angel You Don’t Know’ (TAYDK). At a time where the world needed aural healing the most, the Ghanian singer’s otherworldly vocals and eccentric production provided comfort to a number of listeners. Three years later, she returns in a big and colourful way with the release of her omnivorous sophomore album, ‘Fountain Baby.’
‘Fountain Baby’ arrives with much pomp and glamour. Across 15 dazzling tracks, Amaa Serwah Genfi bares her soul all on her own, assisted only by a roster of highbrow producers and engineers, who provide the perfect backdrop for the singer to fire off her innermost desires. Promotional singles “Co-Star” and “Reckless and Sweet,” set the ball rolling with Amaarae’s expansive sonic approach with hints of her borderless sound with an innate disarming authenticity and vulnerability.
The unbridled confidence she displays through the new album is not new to her OG fans. Since ‘Passionfruit Summers,’ Amaarae’s wispy and honey-toned vocals have soundtracked many of our thrills and romantic sensualities. With evocative, poetic phrases and memorable melodies dripped in Japanese folk, R&B, dream pop, punk-rock and more, Amaarae paints a picture of an artist with little to prove and a lot to say. In typical fashion, we share our thoughts on the album, from best song to stand out production, biggest potential hit, biggest skip and more. Tap in.
tomorrow, real music is back
— Fountain Baby (@amaarae) June 8, 2023
Alla: Amongst the tracks on the album, “Big Steppa” stands out as my ultimate favourite for its enticing summer-indie essence. I find the song to be a masterful balance of Amaarae’s sweet-sounding vocals over the sturdy and catchy beat. The song deeply resonates with me for its enchanting mix of ethereal vocals and rhythmic undertone that transports you on a serene journey, as if cruising down a highway into the sunset. In its entirety, “Big Steppa” exudes an aura characterised by the warmth of summer and a delightful touch of sweetness—what’s not to love?
Moore: Choosing a favourite song from projects filled with bangers is always difficult, but if I had to pick one it would definitely be “Angels in Tibet.” It flows seamlessly from the intro track “All My Love,” carrying on the Eastern influence that makes it so intriguing and spiritual. It’s also the perfect party song with a catchy beat and lyrics that will have friends chanting it in clubs throughout the summer. “Angels in Tibet” is definitely a great song to place at the beginning of the project, as it gives a clear idea of the dreamlike quality of Amaarae’s songs along with the energising quality that the rest of the songs have.
Nwanneamaka: Digging through Amaarae’s catalogue, her production is usually eccentric but given the versatility of an artist like herself, they work. I appreciate the South-Asian and Arabic influences on tracks “Counterfeit” and “Reckless and Sweet.” That being said, my favourite production is “Sociopathic Dance Queen” for a number of reasons. The drums at the start are very reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” and when her vocals land, they’re very airy and exciting. I can’t place my finger on what exactly it reminds me of but the instrumentals sound very nostalgic as well.
Dennis: At one point during “Counterfeit,” I was ready for Slim Thug to jump out and start yelling “Wamp wamp, what it do!” There’s a couple of great choices for this question, but the rap head in me is going for the song just because of the sample. This is where I want to say thank you to Pharell and Chad Hugo for creating one of the most inimitable sounds in Hip-Hop, and if you didn’t understand the these references, get some education in your life and listen to ‘Hell Hath No Fury’. Beyond the sample, though, the percussive embellishments and the way Amaarae glides is some supreme shit!
Israel: My favourite verse is still from “Co-Star.” The production on the song is very catchy but i think what sold it for me were the lyrics. Being a leo with strong main character energy, I was waiting to hear what she said about us. Her lyricism on this track is also very comical. Particularly hilarious when she said ‘Them libra bitches horrible.’
Alex: It’s difficult to have a favourite verse in Amaarae’s body of work because all the tracks surely have a verse that hits deep. However, the verses in “Come Home To God” resonate with me on a much deeper level because it’s reminiscent of scriptures God encouraged his followers to turn to Him for rest. Going the way of the gospel and affirming that God is the ultimate place of rest, the verse is a message and a reminder for me to always seek refuge in God.
Sien: Absolutely no skips on this. Personally, I couldn’t wait for the album to begin so I’ll say the only track that glided through due to suspense is the intro, “All my Love.”
Daniel A: Fountain Baby back at it! Its beautifully put together with zero skips. The production and genre bending blows me away. The album seems split in two with her now expected rock spice added to the second part of the album and “SEX, VIOLENCE, SUICIDE” was the perfect interlude. 10/10 in my book.
Emmanuel: A lot of records on here have unarguable hit potential but on first listen, there’s a couple I’m leaning towards. One of them is “Princess Going Digital”. With a packed eighties synth wave production, it’s a harkening towards a certain confidence. The beat drop is absolutely bonkers and Amaarae floats over the song assuredly. It’s that kind of song people feel sexy and goofy to; if popular media’s anything like me, they’d be all over those bounces. Another hit potential is “Big Steppa”, for almost similar reasons to “Princess”. Feel good affirmations with horn-licked P2J-esque afrofusion production never goes wrong with the African audience, at home or in the diaspora.
Nwanneamaka: “Reckless and Sweet” is already making rounds across streaming platforms and a strong contender for biggest potential hit with good reason. The track’s twinkling production pairs perfectly with her smooth, melodious vocals and funky baselines. It’s message and accompanying visuals also perfectly align with Amaarae’s recurring themes of love and mystery through the lens of her spunky self expression, perfectly positioning it for commercial success. While “Disguise” is more mid-tempo, the reverberating bassline and hypnotic background vocals could make it another crowd favourite.
Dennis: First impression from a few days back: I’m playing this right when it’s out. Second impression from this morning: GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY! I’m still going to need one or two more full listens to work out the specifics of my awe, but I know a masterpiece when I hear one. ‘Fountain Baby’ is a masterpiece.
Nwanneamaka: Coming from several months of Amaarae features scattered across album announcements like CKay, Boj, Tiwa Savage and countless others, I thought it was interesting that this album only had solo performances. While I would have loved one or two features, it doesn’t make the album rank any lower in my books. It’s HER time. After waiting several months, with the backing of the pre-released tracks, ‘Fountain Baby’ is exactly what I thought it would be. We still have the unapologetically sensual energy but with a renewed sense of confidence. The varying production styles across the tracks also played in her favour as it widened my perspective of her range. It’s familiar but risky at the same time. Undeniably an interesting route but as an OG Amaarae fan, I’d say it’s just the right amount of experimental. ‘Fountain Baby‘ for the win.
Emmanuel: Amaarae’s experiments come off smoothly because she doesn’t make a big deal of them. She’s flexing over the most layered beats you’ll ever hear with assured ease, those vocals striking fierce and tender. There’s a lot to like about ‘Fountain Baby’: from the visceral beats to the specific edge in her songwriting, to the sheer wonder of the lush experiences she creates. Coming from a classic like ‘The Angel You Don’t Know’, the expectations were always going to be high but Amaarae deftly evades them, instead positioning the flag of her new country. This fountain will never dry, that’s for sure.
Featured Image Credits/The NATIVE