LexiSugar – The Journey – EP Review
If you watch “The Story Of ‘The Journey’” and check out the tale behind LexiSugar’s new EP, The Journey, you’ll not only get excellent details on what went into the record, but also insight into the man himself. LexiSugar, aka Alexander Akpan-Ita, was born in Nigeria – to break “The Story Of ‘The Journey’” down for you quickly to catch us all up, it showcases the humble nature of a man that has always had a strong connection to music and desire to entertain. He’s come a long, long way to create his debut and The Journey EP will go on to detail much of what he’s been through and experienced in pursuit of his dreams along the way. A highly gifted producer & musician that clearly knows his way around on both sides of the studio boards, he also recorded his own vocals for the first time on the songs from The Journey…which became a personal reflection on life & love that took real courage and commitment to make. The man sure knows how to create a smooth sound – that much becomes clear immediately.
Like, I LOVED the “Intro” to this record…you can hear the humbleness in LexiSugar, but also the skill, talent and immaculate production capabilities. He says it best – “I found my reason to be here” – and again, I think that much becomes instantly clear on this record – LexiSugar has every reason to be doing what he’s doing and even the “Intro” hints at all the reasons why he SHOULD be here. Smoothness on display right away, you get a mix of spoken word & singing that details some of the inspirations behind The Journey – and I think more important than anything else, you get that verbal commitment from LexiSugar that he is indeed, ready for this moment he’s in now. Love the sound of his singing voice…I might even like his natural speaking voice just as much; he’s got real character in his tone and a thoughtfulness to his lyrics that sounds extremely genuine.
A lot of the magic I found in LexiSugar’s music was in his vocals…that natural accent he’s got really adds a lot of charm into the atmosphere of these songs. Take “All My Love” for example…when he sings ‘I cannot lie’ in the chorus-hook – that sounds amazing for TWO reasons: one because it’s a well-sung part of a well-written hook, but also because of that natural accent putting a sweet perspective on the words that we might not hear through any other artist’s rendition or version of a song like this. There are a few moments where the tones slip just beyond LexiSugar’s reach…or at the very least, his approach makes it sound like they could be…he’s so ‘on’ throughout 99% of the track that you’d have to at least wonder if anything that sounds just wide of the mark is more of a stylistic choice. I think he’s written a really strong chorus, a sincere song, killer bass-lines and there’s some really awesome keyboards & a guitar-solo to go with this as well. Bottom line on “All My Love” is that I think he’s truly got himself a sincere melody and beautifully sweet song that really connects to us as listeners. You can consider it easy-listening for where it would fit in your collection genre-wise and the overall smoothness that it creates to slide right into your ears through the writing, performance and production. Love the way he’s ended this one in a way that really allows you to hear some of the instrumentation that’s led to such a strong song all along by breaking “All My Love” down slowly…a highlight for the keys at the end for sure.
The instrumentation on this record is really outstanding. “The Journey” featuring Nigerian-based soul-singer Isaac Gerarlds has a lot going for it from its immaculate percussion sounds to the signature rubbery & bold bass-lines from LexiSugar, the saxophone and keyboards playing huge roles, the guest appearance on the vocals and a highly interesting song. “The Journey” does a great job of mimicking its narrative and sentiment through the music itself; there’s so much to listen to, it’s represented like a completely equal part of “The Journey” – an idea that makes so much sense when you hear it. Whether or not that’s on purpose or just an inventive songwriter hard at work, it’s hard to say…LexiSugar clearly puts the work into his music on both sides of the studio-boards every time…but something about “The Journey” really seemed to further the entire story here. I think the inclusion of Isaac was a great idea and he sounds fantastic in the lead and alongside LexiSugar’s harmonies – but I have to say, when you really get into this track and listen to the rhythm section doing its thing, you really should be loving “The Journey” every bit as much for its incredible instrumentation, if not more so. Those drums/percussion are as perfect in their sound as you could ever hope to hear…and those bass-lines! Don’t even get me started or we’ll seriously all be here all day long reading this one review! To put it as simply as I can & still get the point across – you get a seriously inspired performance from LexiSugar on the bass with parts written & performed so well that the professionalism and skill drip beautifully from every movement, tone and contribution he makes to the music of “The Journey.” Really well structured tune from its verse to chorus with a very harmonious sound & sweet intentions…I think he’s done an exceptional job on his title-track and put in a noteworthy performance that can’t be ignored here.
Lively performance from T.Nayah on the record’s middle cut, “How I Feel” – she makes this track immediately spring to life with a bright sound to her tone and big hooks to work with in the vocal-flow. LexiSugar puts in a more reggae-inspired sound to his own verse – MAN does this work out well for him! Combined with the overall pop/easy-listening atmosphere to it all, they really let this track translate the groove right to you. I can’t imagine not being happy with the way this came out though…you gotta be…”How I Feel” has some of the strongest, straight-forward and accessible hooks that you’ll find on this record. For the most part, I really like the vocals a lot here…I love the way they’ve been layered together in many spots but also felt like the auto-tuner had a few moments where it tried to give her tones a bit of trouble; she triumphs through them with a stellar performance & nothing detracts from the comforting sway of this song’s main rhythm and melody. “How I Feel” is the kind of song where you just feel better for listening to it…there’s a real uplifting vibe on this tune that you’ll want more of.
I think he does a spectacular job on the vocals of “One Minute.” A jazzy-ballad, piano & bass-led melody…it definitely qualifies as ‘easy listening’ – but man, this guy really gets it right. LexiSugar sounds wonderfully sincere singing in both English and his native language of Yoruba, weaving both languages together in a flawlessly smooth sound and sweet tune on “One Minute.” I have to give the man credit here…easy-listening isn’t exactly my regular jam, but tunes done right ALWAYS are – and these are those. The Journey excels here in one of its slowest moments on “One Minute” and has LexiSugar expressing some of the sweetest sentiments you’ll find on the entire album. Saxophone sounds great…the duel-language factor works strongly in his favor once again…overall, “One Minute” makes for one of the most endearing & charming songs you’ll hear this year. While there’s a chance that this song done by another artist could have gone in a more ‘lounge’ style direction or become cheesy – I think LexiSugar gets the stamp of approval because he really does make you a believer by the way he sings his songs with such genuine sincerity. Essentially…it can’t be all that cheesy when it sounds this real to us.
It’s definitely apparent by the time you reach “I Do” on The Journey EP that LexiSugar is certainly a lover, not a fighter. He writes about love through an expressive perspective that really hits the sweet spot – always making time to make sure the musicianship and instrumentation is every bit a part of the charm. He gets an uplifting sound & performance from featured guest Jisola on this tune…and I was trying to figure out exactly who it was she reminded me of, until I realized it was Queen Bey herself. The opening tones of Jisola’s performance come through just as bold as Beyonce’s do…though I didn’t always feel they stayed that way. I felt like she had some of the best moments on the microphone, but also some of the most mixed-results through her performance overall…there are a few slightly grating tones in comparison to the smoothness in the music and LexiSugar’s own silky approach to “I Do.” For the most-part it works…I really liked the way that LexiSugar came into this song for his first verse and the way that the percussion and guitar keep a loose, jazzy feel alongside the intricate & skillful bass-lines we hear.
I’m guessing that “Count On Me” featuring Manny Wellz and Todi ended up being the lead-single for The Journey…it seems as if the hit count on this one has already spiked by comparison to the rest. Hard not to understand why that is – he’s got exceptional guest-performances hitting the mark in really unique ways on “Count On Me.” In a sense, I think he’d be taking a chance on this cut with the fact that the hooks really aren’t typical…but I do think they actually really, really work. There’s something that’s slightly challenging to the ears & rewarding to listen to on “Count On Me” and the satisfying structure it possesses. I also think that LexiSugar might have found the perfect notes to end this EP on…I really found this final track to move and flow in a completely compelling and captivating way that is every bit as attractive for the uniqueness in the writing as it is for the beauty in the stunning performances. Everything about this last cut is seriously inviting to listen to, loaded with flavor & hooks – “Count On Me” ends The Journey on perhaps its biggest highlight and most memorable tune. LexiSugar’s got an exceptional level of professionalism in his approach and execution…I think he shines all over this record.
Find out more about LexiSugar at his official page at: www.iamlexisugar.com