The Sunday Mail
THOSE that have listened to Selmor Mtukudzi’s latest offering, “Dehwe reNzou”, will testify that this is an emotionally charged album.
The production is full of spike!
Save for one incident that she publicly blasted her late father Dr Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi for “unfair treatment and lack of support”, Selmor has often been diplomatic on issues to do with her personal life.
Reporters often need to have a special skillset to “unlock” her during interviews. But that is not the case on this album. She comes out guns blazing. Talk of the power of art!
The album easily gives away Selmor’s inner thoughts. One will most likely be left with no questions after going through the Steve Dyer Tribe Studio-produced album.
This writer will not bore you with details of some of the poignant lyrics as we already did so on a preview titled Selmor vents on “Dehwe reNzou”, which was published before the album launch.
Perhaps we only need to highlight all the songs in which Selmor pours her heart out — making bare her feelings and aspirations — before moving on to the next agenda.
Seven out of the 11 tracks on “Dehwe re- Nzou” directly addresses her family issues, those that most people have read about or became aware of through various sources. The arrangement of the project’s songs is attention-grabbing.
The list leads with “Mandidzimbira”, “Mbodza”, “Zvine Basarei?”, “Unconditional Love”, “Wadzipwa”, “Uchafinhwa” and “Usareva Nhema”. Coming in the aforesaid order, the message from one track leads to the next.
The production sounds like Selmor is telling a well-knit narrative.
The general music aspect
“Dehwe reNzou” is, according to Selmor, a tribute to the late great music superstar and national hero, Dr Tuku.
The project happens to be the “Nguva Yangu” hit-maker’s sixth studio album in a career spanning over a decade. However, one would be pardoned for considering that this a watershed moment in Selmor’s music career. The musician already has her own signature touch that has seen her scoop awards in the past, but she diverts quite a bit on “Dehwe reNzou”.
She adopts Dr Tuku’s flair, both beat and intonation, on a number of songs.
Fair and fine — it is her birthright to do so. But the effort sounds too much like Dr Tuku, maybe Selmor should consider taking it down a notch on future projects.
Aping the late singer’s vocals should be left mainly for live gigs when she plays his songs.
It is always difficult to fill a star’s shoes, no matter how good one is. History has proven this fact beyond doubt. In fact, Dr Tuku was always on record saying: “There is no better you than you, so just be you.”
Thus the world wants Dr Tuku’s daughter to continue rising because of her talent, not because she can mimic the late great star.
Compositions like “Hangasa”, “Nguva Yangu”, “Zvidikidiki”, “Butterflies”, “Dzidza”, “Ndinochengetwa” and “Ndine Wangu”, released by Selmor way before Dr Tuku’s death, show that she is a gifted singer who does not need to cling to sympathy for her to stay afloat.
Likewise, tracks like “Babe Can I”, “Ngoma Ngaitsve” (coming with a hybrid sound blending Selmor and Dr Tuku’s styles), “Tanda Mbizi”, “Usareve Nhema” and “Tawanda Sei” on the latest offering easily prove Selmor’s potential outside her father’s shadow.
That is the kind of style she should place emphasis on.
Selmor explained herself: “The album was carefully composed. Coming a year after the demise of my dad, we had to make sure the project resonated well with the tribute concept we had in mind. If you check, the touch remains the same but with a few ‘adjustments’ in some instances.”
Sungura virtuoso Alick “Baba Sharo” Macheso, who graced the songbird’s album launch in Harare, is impressed with the effort but feels that there is still room for improvement.
“She is not far from the mark. She just needs to tighten her sound a bit and make sure she selects a path to follow and remain resolute on it,” noted Baba Sharo.
Selmor can ride on Dr Tuku’s sympathy at the moment. However, what will happen when the empathy within fans finally dies down? Most children of fallen music legends have struggled to keep their careers afloat after that.
“…I will not indulge in giving the latest offering from Selmor critical acclaim as has been done by others, but rather wait for her second or even third album from now, when all emotion has dissipated. Then we can start analysing her raw talent,” wrote seasoned arts critic Garikai Mazara on one of his personal social media platforms.
However, it is not like Selmor is caught between a rock and a hard place — far from it.
Hers is an interesting dilemma.
She can even fuse the two types of music styles — Selmor Music and Tuku Music — and still come up with a unique touch.