Show Dem Camp’s “The Palmwine Express” is a gamble- Dami Ajayi

What is most striking about Show Dem Camp’s new record, The Palmwine Express, is that it feels markedly different from the two previously released similarly themed projects.

As an aside, palmwine music might be the intellectual equivalent of lamba music. It is rather about mood than it is about method but in their prior iterations, they seemed more excited about making mood—and there is nothing wrong with that.

If Palmwine Music Vol 1 was an attempt to build on the ethos of the Juls-produced, BOJ and Poe-assisted ‘Feel Alright’ song, Vol 2 consolidated on that method. It was like taking a template to a sonic laboratory and replicating different songs of the same ilk for letting down your hair or letting in the tropical breeze of coastal cities.

Palmwine music was typically beach music till The Palmwine Express came in with its subtle disruption.

By far longer in duration, at 12 songs and 41 minutes, The Palmwine Express, might be an unconscious effort to merge the duo’s streamline projects. Perhaps not quite purged of the ethos of Clone War’s These Buhari Times, this album carries a pensive note about it.

Spaxx, the producer of the two other projects, is not at large, so the gnawing concern is what changed? Nigeria’s economy, perhaps. The crunch of our society seems recorded with a blip on the Show Dem Camp (SDC) barometer, so that the album’s intro is a tribute to airy Ghanaian highlife.

The Palmwine Express aspires more to a train ride than to a beach side mess around. That airy nature of the previous album has been replaced with constriction and its attendant claustrophobia is best depicted on the album cover art. Perhaps SDC is ready to travel the world with palmwine music, so they put it on a train.

Passengers on the train are the usual suspects. The Palmwine Express is just the right jumbo of formula and tweaking of form.  Tems returns when she hadn’t quite left; she was great on Clone Wars’ ‘Shadow of Doubt’ and just as phenomenal on ‘Tales by Moonlight’. On this song, SDC is not invoking the kiddies television show but discussing a disillusionment that comes through different shades of fallacy.

Nonso and Funbi team up for melodious hooks on ‘A Good Time’, Fasina brings that dancehall flavour on ‘Cool Me Down’, Moelogo assures of that same ‘good time’ on ‘Flex on You’ and there is something edgy and syrupy-ish on the BOJ assisted, ‘Different Case’.

Wani takes the graft of his hook on ‘In Case’ from 2Shotz and there are echoes of Timaya in that offering. ‘Do me nice’ featuring Buju seems tempered after Seyi Shodimu’s ‘Love Me Jeje’ but it has been updated by salt, time and palmwine.

Tomi Thomas puts in a show with Tems as best collaborator with his amazing vocal calisthenics on ‘Vibrations’. Tems returns with her unmistakable voice alongside Amaarae on the contemplative final love song, ‘Too bad.’

SDC took a gamble by making another Palmwine music album, the most different in the series and they have shown growth as well as the melding of their ideas and methods. Things are becoming more complex to be kept on streamlines. Perhaps their next Clone Wars album will be more airy, only time will tell.

But they have failed to heed to this critic’s warning not to produce another Palmwine album and they won!

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