He waited for no grass to grow. Just weeks after walking away with the coveted title of South Africa’s newest Idol, Karabo Mogane has paced to put a body of work that seals his star power as an artist. We were sceptical, even worried, that Love Is A Verb might have been a bit rushed merely as means to capitalise from the popularity of the show before all the hype died down. An entire album put together in less than a month? We took an attentive listen to the release. Here’s what to expect:
Perhaps a smart move, the album opens with the lead single. Ding Dong is a laid back RnB track with an authentic South African twist. The song is a perfect opener for the album not just because it is the first ever single the Idols winner released towards the end of his run on the competition, but also because it sets in motion the tone for the rest of the record. Here, Mogane takes his rich vocal agility and puts it to good use in a seductive manner, creatively bringing in vernacular lyrics to take the album home.
Similar themes will continue on tracks like Three Steps, one of our personal faves in the album. “Sizolakha lolu thando”, he sings. A great jam perfect for a Sunday wind down, a drive back from work or a good listening session in a taxi.
Though it has to be said, it isn’t until we get to Ngifuna Lo, the third track in the album, that we get the cohesive thread that weaves together this album so seamlessly. This song is a pleasure to listen to for those who appreciate solid South African productions with a love undercurrent and dominant vocals. If you have listened to the likes of Kaylow, the Jezebel Brothers or to a much lesser extent Joe Nina, you start getting it. The jazzy feel, mid tempto and relentless.
But where the comparison with Kaylow really claim substance is on Selfish Ngawe, where Karabo honours the relevance of House music and dance in the context of South Africa, and knowing well that his sultry voice can be used to take the thumping beats to a cross appeal level relevant both in and out of the club. Admittedly, the song is quite a detour from the first three and sets a new direction within the album.
The dance element continues on Summertime, which instantly ignited summer nostalgia. Something about is very ‘anthem’ and sing along.
Where Karabo loses us a bit is in the song Hard To Get, which sounds a bit undecided. With elements of electro and a strong Pop influence, this one does not demand your instant attention. It sounds like those songs you have to understand. You might feel different as soon as you grab the album and give it the essential spin, but we think we will skip it.
And skipping that one might soon prove to be a smart gamble, because Karabo redeems himself effortlessly on his rendition of Luther Vandross’s hit So Amazing. The confident vocals we have come to know from him are once again honoured. At the heart of it, Mogane is proving that he is ryhthm and blues soul at heart. He stamps that all over this cover.
We love how I’m Not The Only One incorporates elements of live instrumentation, it certainly gives it the amplified edge. He does not put Sam Smith to shame with the version, which we are tempted to say. Instead, much like he did throughout the competition, he brings his own rich resonance in the song and takes it elsewhere we appreciate for different reasons. Surprisingly, this is in fact one of the best songs on the album.
The contrast between Greater Love and Baby I don’t Know Love is stunning. On Greater Love, Karabo sticks to his guns. Soothing vocals, focused lyrics and a stellar vocal delivery that gives one goosebumps. And yet on Baby I don’t know love, decidedly our second favourite second album, he switches up the gear and takes the album to the party. An interesting way to conclude the journey, with a celebration.
Love Is A Verb is quite a decent album, and many of the fans garnered from SA Idols by Karabo will love it. Yes at times, it does feel a bit rushed and the cohesive thread that holds the album together is sometimes a bit off, it’s overall a pleasant listen. We loved it.
Three Steps is by far the best song on the album. It is the best artistic expression of what Karabo promises to bring to the South African music industry. Ding Dong, Ngifuna Lo and Baby I Don’t Love are also right up there as some of the greats from the album.
- Ding Dong
- Three Steps
- Ngifuna Lo
- Selfish Ngawe
- Hard To Get
- So Amazing
- I’m Not The One
- Greater Days
- I Don’t Know Love
You will love this if you enjoy Kaylow, Seal, Mi Casa, Donald or Joe Nina.
Get your copy of Love Is A Verb HERE