After a two year break, Oxford based singer/songwriter and rapper Somasu is back with a new EP, 8 Years A, a reflective and often emotive look at the area of mental health.  Having suffered with depression and anxiety for eight years or so, 8 Years A is a collection of songs that presents an honest and soul baring look at his demons.  In the same way that his previous work does, the isolation, uncertainty and hope will resonate with all those who have done or still do, battle demons of their own.  Although written before the Coronavirus pandemic, many will empathise with the feelings evoked throughout.

The outstanding track for me is the first, ‘The Outside‘.  A rich ballad mixes with electro beats and soul rhythms alike to form a gentle sound that encapsulates the sometimes small and claustrophobic world of depression and anxiety.  How the outside might not mean the world outside the front door but the world outside your own thoughts and feelings.  Isolation screams from each beat and I’m sure will evoke feelings from the current lockdown.

Moving on from ‘The Outside’, ‘Journey Towards‘ feels a lot heavier in tone and musically.  The tempo and lyrics drip with the baggage of depression and the isolation that almost always follows; many people will suffer from depression and mental illness but each person’s experience is unique to them, no matter the commonalties that might be typical of any given condition. 

Thereafter, the two remaining songs have a more upbeat feel.  ‘Stay Away‘ has a sharp beat and sounds more positive and hopeful about the future.  On the other hand, the message stay away has an ambivalence about it that could be telling both the world outside and the mental health issues to keep away. Again, this ambivalence provokes a thoughtful response from the listener and multiple plays will undoubtedly lead to different perspectives. ‘ Heal Afternoon’ ends the four tracks with a yet more upbeat, positive feeling – a feeling that the journey is towards hope and recovery, a journey upward, leaving depression and anxiety to one side for the time being at least. 

Somasu’s words of advice for aspiring artists are both practical and inspirational:

“Write and record as many songs as possible (at least two songs a week). Always ask for feedback from musicians that you don’t know personally (for unbiased and constructive feedback). And never give up and don’t be afraid to experiment.”

8 Years A was released on 29 May. Get your copy here.

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