Best New Music: Joyce Olong’s “Outta Town” aims to make peace with the past

The mood of the world right now is particularly slow. The past few months have been full of highs and lows and now more than ever, the events of this year have forced us to pause, re-access our steps and re-align them for the future. In the middle of a global health crisis which has turned everything as we know it, change is the only constant we can be certain of.

Generally, music during this period has been reflective of the current state of affairs, and musicians have sought out to capture our collective consciousness through song, either providing solace for the tumultuous times, presenting a way out, or indulging us to the point of escape from our current reality. Joyce Olong’s deeply reflective new single “Outta Town” seems to provide all three with ease, as she sings with tear-inducing sincerity about the all too familiar sentiment of feeling lonely and different from the crowd.

After a three year hiatus from releasing any solo records, Joyce Olong’s first offering of the year is exactly what we need to get through these uncertain times. The self-produced single “Outta Town” is fueled by imaginative storytelling as the introspective songwriter turns inwards and delivers an open-wound confessional tale about rising above your past experiences and re-aligning your present, armed with the knowledge that those who hurt you have a dark past just like you.

The song bleeds with emotion from the very first words, which opens with the gloomy hook. ‘Outta town/Oh you must be dangerous/What’s your agenda, you from outta town?’ she sings over the tender, acoustic-guitar-accented beat. The buoyant production feels like a journey, representing the uncertain feeling of being left out, one we’ve all embarked upon at some point during our lives. But rather than resign to these helpless feelings, Joyce tells listeners to remain afloat, because everyone’s got a checkered past.Don’t fret you will survive/we all come from somewhere/life is always a motion’ she sings, reminding listeners that though the journey may be lonely, but it won’t last forever because life is in constant motion and we’re all going through it together.

On a deeper level, Joyce Olong’s message transcends fraught feelings of loneliness and abandonment and represent much larger truths. Perhaps what is most touching about “Outta Town” is that we all know exactly what she means. We know what it means to advance to a new stage in life; whether it’s a new job or a new school, and to feel like the people in your new environment are judging you based on where you come from. Joyce Olong opines that as long as you remember why you deserve to be in this new stage, and you fade out outside noises, because they are reacting based on their own experiences of the world.

“Outta Town” is one of those songs that could boost your confidence if you need it to, as it feels like listening to a trusted old friend hold your hand through uncertain moments. It’s a testament to how we can all survive the events of this year through self-reflection, compromise, and ruthless honesty. It also says more about the mores of society and the discomfort that comes when you’re on a new path, but like a trusted friend, Joyce Olong reminds you that all the power you need to take on your new phase of life is in you. To the nay sayers and those who want to hold you back, she says “Abeg you free me” and we couldn’t agree more.

Despite her relatively quiet pace these past few years, the vivid and imaginative storytelling that details “Outta Town” definitely whets our appetites for what’s to come, which is the release of her debut album ‘Silhouettes’.

Stream “Outta Town” below.

Featured image credits/Spotify


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