Album Review: “Boy Alone” by Omah Lay

Omah Lay’s latest project– his first since breaking out in 2019– is like getting caught in a chaotic situation; trying to escape is futile.

omah lay boy alone review

Artist: Omah Lay

Title: Boy Alone

Genre: Afropop, Afrobeat

Date of Release: July 15, 2022

Producers: Tempoe, Niphkeys, P Prime, P2J and more…

Album Art:

Omah Lay Boy Alone Album Art

Length: 14 Songs; 38 minutes

Guest Appearances: 2; Justin Bieber and Tay Iwar

Label: KeyQaad

Rating: 4.5/5

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Away from most of the hustling and bustling of Lagos, Africa’s busiest metropolis, and spending most of his childhood in the oil-rich city of Port Harcourt, Omah Lay would have had far more time for purposeful thinking and sober ruminations than many of his Lagos-bred singing counterparts.

It’s been a recurring theme in his music since 2019’s ‘Hello Brother’, and continued into his debut EP ‘Get Layd’, which had the bewitching tunes ‘Damn’ and ‘Bad Influence’. A sophomore EP ‘What Have We Done’ would ensue in the same year, with singles ‘Understand’ and the hit collaboration ‘Infinity’ featuring Olamide becoming global TikTok sensations. Coupled with a guest appearance on a remix of Gyakie’s smash hit ‘Forever’, Lay earned widespread acclaim as one of Africa’s fastest-rising musicians.

3 years on, and his debut album Boy Alone arrives wrapped in lilac ribbons- a subtle reference to the cover art of ‘Get Layd’– the genesis of his ascendency. On the 14-track album, Lay reaches a tipping point in his career. It begins with ‘recognize ‘– an ode to his beloved PH city, followed by the self-reinforcing ‘i’, where he croons “I cannot be nobody for life” over a wicked P2J-produced instrumental.

He raves haughtily about his women in ‘bend you’ and ‘woman’ before the powerful and inviting ‘i’m a mess’, as addiction, self-doubt, depression, hurt, and anxiety take centre stage; offering a glimpse into Lay’s chaotic world.Despite his reclusiveness, he’s grateful to friends and family for sticking around on ‘temptations’, pondering on how they manage to love him irrespective of his shortcomings.

Already one of Lay’s biggest hits, the globetrotting ‘understand’ is a vengeful chant about the harrows of heartbreak and betrayal. Lay combines with talented UK-based Nigerian musician Tempoe to devastating effect. It is no wonder the song reached the heights that it did.

Lay’s rich timbre snatches the spotlight on the alluring ‘never forget’. However, it quickly passes as he ups the pitch on ‘safe haven’ with a captivating falsetto that collapses towards the end of the 2-minutes-49-seconds long track. A hankering for respite, and tranquility reflect in the song’s refrain.

For many artists, nothing compares to the love they while touring, performing in front of thousands of fans at sell out venues. Sometimes the escapism offered can become addictive, but the tenderness in Lay’s delivery uncovers the layers of trouble in his mind even with all that appeal.

‘attention’ featuring Justin Bieber gets even more inviting now that Boy Alone has made its full debut. The song didn’t quite blossom like the marquee single it was supposed to be, but it is likely to enjoy a renaissance now. The heavy Hi-life inspired ‘inspired, yet hypnotic ‘soso’ offers an enticing introduction into the self-criticisms of ‘how to luv’, with light inflections from Lay’s Ikwere patois flavouring the Afrobeats synths.

The curtains start to fold on Boy Alone with the Tay Iwar assisted ‘tell everybody’. Lay’s raunchy lyrics and Iwar’s captivating tenor lay waste to another killer instrumental from P2J. The show finally ends with the fans-dedicated ‘purple song’. The record is filled with echoes of gratitude and plea for continued indulgence; “Even if I don’t want you no more/ You should not let me go”, sing’s Omah Lay.

Before his rise to stardom, Omah Lay had been a producer and songwriter. His understanding of sound and strong inclination to be intentional with his music, using it as a means to escape his fleeting emotions: trouble, happiness, anxiety, grief, depression, love, lust, satisfaction, and fulfilment flesh out Boy Alone.

The album is like getting caught in a chaotic situation; however, escaping is futile.

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