Vicktor Taiwò Makes His Mark with “Juno”
In today’s music world, there’s no shortage of voices in the crowd singing soulful, pop-infused music. With that descriptor alone, one can immediately think of several names that fit the bill. There are fewer names, however, in that group whose music actually sounds original. Vicktor Taiwò is one of those artists. The Nigeria-born singer now based in London offers a unique spin on well-tread themes on his Juno EP. Taiwò’s warm, intimate vocal delivery and confident production work give the EP a sense of maturity made that much more impressive by the fact that it is his debut.
Taiwò shares a significant amount of emotional pain and turmoil on Juno’s five tracks, with frequent references to romantic troubles and to the challenges of finding one’s way in life. At 23, he appears to be at the stage of reflecting on his experiences thus far and using them to forge his desired life in adulthood. His words reflect weariness but also resolve, a battle-tested and practical viewpoint that with effort, the hopefulness of youth is in fact maintainable into later years.
Things begin with a dark tone on “Digital Kids,” as Taiwò describes feelings of youth over a bed of congealing synth pads and descending harmonies. His delivery is openly emotional as he sings, “you know kids like you ain’t supposed to know / that the world is broken and the sun is frozen.” He seems hardened by life and perhaps regretful that he took love for granted in the past as he writes, “I bet you never knew, never knew love could be this bright.” Toward the end of track, rapper Solomon offers a reinforcement of Taiwò’s toughened stance with lines like, “Looking down at earth from a bird’s eye / searching, but searching for what? / searching for the purpose, the words, and the worth that we lost.” His laid back, almost spoken-word flow confirms the feeling of acceptance of the way of the world. It’s a heavy opening statement for the EP, both in subject matter but also in musical style with minimal, restrained production from Felix Joseph. The combination of elements effectively grabs the listener’s attention from the EP’s opening moments.
“Paradise Island” begins much in the same way as “Digital Kids,” starting in the same key and similar chord progression. A new, purposeful beat eventually enters, though, giving the music more direction and reflecting Taiwò’s more hopeful message: “Your mother’s eyes are filled with grief / this barren land is all she sees / life cannot grow where man has been / but inside you, you still believe in love.” It’s perhaps another play on the dichotomy of old age and youth, emphasizing the hope of maintaining the belief in love even as one enters adulthood.
We get a more overtly hopeful outlook on “Feathers & Wax,” which employs more pop-oriented composing and production than the previous two tracks as Taiwò sings about helping someone else find their way. In a reference to the cautionary tale in Greek mythology of Icarus and Daedalus, Taiwò offers an uplifting message, writing, “We rise on feathers and wax child / I’ll help you grow / wings that won’t burn in the hot sun / can’t watch you go.” It’s a mature approach to a common theme and gives the track more depth against its fairly inside-the-box production.
The final two tracks on Juno return to a more emotionally tortured disposition, first with “Fade,” in which Taiwò’s describes a troubled relationship and offers the mantra: “I guess you’ve been fading from the start.” With the closer “Curse,” we find Taiwò reflecting on a failed relationship and taking responsibility for its failure. In one of the more poignant lines he writes, “ I still pray for you when you curse my name / oh I do believe that man can make mistakes.” It’s a sort of reminder that although many of us strive to live life without regret, sometimes it’s not so easy.
Juno gives the impression that Taiwò is in a period of transition. Entering one’s mid-twenties means learning from the experiences of youth and putting those lessons to use in a more complex, mature existence. Taiwò proves on Juno that he has a solid handle on this process and portrays it in original ways in his art. It’s clear that this is only the beginning for him, and audiences everywhere can look forward to witnessing his continued development as a human and artist.