Five of the Best: Josephine Oniyama

Josephine Oniya­ma’s music is like lis­ten­ing to friend con­fid­ed deep secrets to you, while the two of you cram togeth­er in a seclud­ed café. And the tea you ordered has bare­ly been touched, because you’re lost in their words.

The Man­ches­ter singer-song­writer, orig­i­nal­ly from west Africa, has been per­form­ing live since the age of 15. Her debut album, Por­trait, pro­duced by Leo Abra­hams, was released in 2012, and received favourable reviews. She has also sup­port­ed fel­low UK artists, includ­ing Michael Kiwanu­ka, The Noisettes, and Palo­ma Faith.

Save for con­tri­bu­tions to albums by Matthew Hal­sall & The Gond­wana Orches­tra and Travis’ eighth album, Every­thing at Once, things have been qui­et on the new music front for Josephine.

Nev­er­the­less, if you haven’t heard of her before, here are five songs that are sure to turn you on to Josephine – and just in time for her sec­ond album, which her offi­cial web­site says is set to be released lat­er this year.

Por­trait (2012)
‘Por­trait’ is one of the songs of this decade. Vio­lins yaw and piano keys jan­gle as if in qui­et reflec­tion, a springy bassline bobs, and Josephine’s vers­es about iden­ti­ty and pur­pose (“We are con­stant­ly try­ing to prove our worth”) ver­te­brate in your mind like a eure­ka moment. Unforgettable.

Orig­i­nal Love (2012)
There’s a lot of love in Josephine’s debut album. And she gives you hon­esty and poet­ry in equal mea­sure. The lyrics of ‘Orig­i­nal Love’ speak to the essence of what so many of us yearn for, regard­less of who we are (“there’s noth­ing I would chose than hav­ing some­body to lose… I wan­na play no games / because there are too many games”).

What a Day (2012)
This song is one of Josephine’s up-tem­po num­bers, and shows off the side of her music which is all about life in motion – in this case, strolling around Deans­gate-Castle­field area of Manchester.

I Pray That I Move (2012)
A tremen­dous air of lone­ly bur­den hangs heav­i­ly about this blues folk track. From its fore­bod­ing open­ing, to Josephine’s sum­mon­ing of “the beat”, to the threat­en­ing eyes of the addressee she is speak­ing to at the sea’s mouth, this is break-up music for nomads.

House of Mir­rors (2012)
Writ­ing this piece remind­ed us just how fan­tas­tic Josephine’s debut album is – art­ful lyrics (‘Last Minute’) and stir­ring sounds (‘Pep­per Shak­er’) can be found through­out. But if you only lis­ten to one track, lis­ten to ‘House of Mir­rors’. This song is the sound of fine art being paint­ed direct­ly onto your mind by a piano and the heart-ren­der­ing hon­esty of Josephine’s words. It’s still life in the emp­ty, neglect­ed manor that nobody sets foot in any longer. It’s aton­ing for one’s fool­ish­ness and regrets. It’s Josephine at her most flawless.

What are some of your favourite Josephine songs? Share your thoughts on our Face­book Page or via @fringefreq on Twit­ter.

Image: PR