Album Review: Samora - Chameleon
by Gardy Stein
All eyes and ears on… Samora! This superwoman from Suriname has spent the last few years wisely, honing her skills, meeting the right people and steadily building her empire. What the crucial combination of talent, determination and connections can lead to is now revealed by her new album Chameleon.
Just like its name giver, so vividly depicted on the cover artwork by Pasquale Herren, it oscillates between different vocal flavors of singer Samora and a host of top-level guests and various colors of music, fusing bouncy Afro-Caribbean styles with high-end European productions by Res Staudenmann and Kiro MusicMaker. These two sign responsible for most of the thirteen tracks on the release, giving it a recognizable, slightly computer-dominated sound overall.
Starting with a banger, Samora makes clear from the beginning that she is serious – and doesn't take sh*t from nobody. Pon Di Front Road, fittingly subtitled Independent, is a powerful affirmation of her self-made success, inviting fellow females to proudly step into the spotlight. The lyrics were inspired by Jamaican dancer Bumper, a single mother who managed to pull herself and her family out from poverty using her talent alone, until she tragically passed away during a club performance. Rise in power!
Similar in tempo and message, Precious is a shout-out to all Black girls out there: "Black girls, big batty with the small waist, curls. Melanin, brown skin, we are the winner we are not the victim!" It is accompanied by an equally strong video that features cameos by Rosh Reign, Miss Anj, K’reema, Zhayna and Océane.
Other tracks in this fast-paced Dancehall-influenced category are Never Thought (which has an Afrobeats touch) and Rise. Less elaborated musically, the latter gives Samora ample opportunity to prominently vent her anger at certain people who didn't keep their promises, and her voice reaches remarkably low, especially in the beginning.
While all her songs are based on personal experiences and reflections, none is as intimate as Tears. Produced by Upsetta Records/Loud City Music, the singer lets us in on the hardships she encountered along her journey, sounding emotional and almost vulnerable here, but at the same time stating that she'll never give up: "The only way we strike back is with my success!"
Another great achievement of the album is the amount and diversity of featured appearances. Seven great artists share the mic with Samora, and all of them bring a special touch to the playlist. From the pacy Ska-tune My Way with "Germany's finest night nurse" Dr. Ring Ding via the digital contribution of both riddim and voice of Tuffarapha on Too Bad to the beautifully laid-back Reggae I'm In Love featuring La Tifa from Columbia (produced by Jahwise Productions, who brings some very welcome Roots instrumentals to the release), the guest singers not only contribute their own vocal flavors, but also different tongues. Thus, the aforementioned La Tifa sings in Spanish, while the footballer-turned-singer Guillaume Hoarau casts a spell over us with his passionate French passages in Take It Easy.
Passion comes in with the remaining three names, too, all of them well-established artists from Jamaica (and, back in the day, fervently admired by little teenage Samora). First, Jah Mason joins her on Let Them Go, a track co-produced by Netherlands' Bobby Beats, to sing about the need to let go of evil vibes and feelings within and around you. "When I walk is with my head up high, lioness I conquer, me no follow no hype!" Second, we hear the ever-delivering Anthony B on a love song called All The Way in which Samora showcases her full vocal potential once more. Stunning! And, as all good things come in threes as they say, Please Be Mine features a fantastic Turbulence. The bubbling tune was the first single release last November and was greatly received so far. Sweetness!
A final surprise is the unusual riddim of German producer SoundCham. His contribution Is There Any Left plays with Trap beats, acoustic guitar lines and bewildering sound effects on which Samora soars in a lament of waning love. Her training in both the practical side of breathing techniques and harmony singing during Gospel choir in Suriname and music theory during her studies in the Netherlands becomes clearly audible here.
Feet-shuffling, head-nodding and goose bumps are guaranteed with Chameleon, a wild and exciting ride through genres, styles and voices. Make sure you don't miss out on this colorful experience and, if you can, catch this lady live on stage during the upcoming sumer!
Samora - Chameleon
Release date: 06/03/2022
01. Pon Di Front Road (Independent)
02. Let Them Go feat. Jah Mason
05. Never Thought
06. My Way feat. Dr. Ring Ding
07. All The Way feat. Anthony B
09. Too Bad
10. Please Be Mine
11. Take It Easy
12. Reggae I’m In Love
13. Is There Any Left