REVIEW: My Light, a lighter act in rebellion by Simphiwe Dana

By Thato Magano (@pothaeto)

Now listening to the song and understanding this background, I have an appreciation for its genesis and as I wait for the full album, I am assured it will be an eclectic mix of sounds, taking us back to the Miss Dana of ‘Zandisile’ and not the heavy, burdened Simphiwe of ‘Kulture Noir’, which is also okay as I realise there is space for all of her expressions in my heart.

Last week Sunday my world stopped momentarily as I went through my twitter timeline and discovered a post from one Simphiwe Dana sharing with us, her ‘beautyful ones’, her latest single, My Light, with the words “I wanted my fans to have the first listen. You have carried me through and I’m ever so grateful. Salut”. I could not wait for my ears to feast on the splendour of Miss Dana’s haunting voice and equally charged lyrics I have come to know to be her foray.

With an easy pan African sound influence, sensual undertones and producer Kunle Ayo’s guitar magic in the background, ‘My Light’ is Dana’s second single from her anticipated fourth studio album, Firebrand, due out later this month, on the 24th November as was confirmed in the weekend papers.

At first listen, I dismiss this new sound as it is not My Simphiwe. I try for another listen and after the sixth listen, I am still not convinced by this lighter mood and sound. I am desperate for the Simphiwe I know who went into her darkest recesses and unleashed ‘Kulture Noir’, I am desperate for the ‘activist artist’ who gave us ‘Nzima’ in solidarity with the people of Marikana after the massacre.

Knowing how deep my love for the songstress goes, I’m assigned the review as soon as I mention the release of this single. For a week I fret, I don’t want to give it the chance it deserves because this song asks me to look at My Simphiwe differently. As I go about looking to understand why she could have betrayed the sound I need from her, I come to understand that the song is a dedication to her son. “I wrote ‘My Light’ at a time when my son’s smile is all that kept me going,” shared Simphiwe on her Soundcloud page where the song was released. “I’ve always wanted to write a song for him. And I wrote it during those vodka-infused days of hiding where I was crying my eyes out from dusk till dawn. He just was really the light of my life” she further says in the City Press interview.

I now realise the artist Simphiwe is on a journey, she is growing and experimenting with her musicality and her sound and she’s also choosing to let herself go and be lighter with the subject matter of her sound. A decade into her recording career, she is redefining the terms of engagement and her approach. In a weekend paper interview, she says “I’ve grown to love myself a little bit more. I’m so glamorous these days …. Now I can do my make-up to perfection. I’ve just become this girlie-girl and I’m enjoying it. And all of these prisons I’m saying: Let it go! Let it go!”

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Declaring myself a disciple of Miss Dana’s ministry on several occasions, and admitting to loving every single bar and note on her ‘Kulture Noir’ album and going as far as far as loving almost all of ‘Zandisile’ and ‘The One Love Movement on Bantu Biko Street’, I realise that perhaps I am the one who is betraying Miss Dana by not allowing her the freedom to explore, to allow her not to always carry the torch as the Makeba of our generation but to allow her to honour, enjoy and celebrate her life in whatever way she deems fit.

True to her rebellious activist musicality, with ‘My Light’, she refuses to be boxed into a monotone expression of her talent. As she says in the song: When others think it’s fair to judge me / Can you lend me your smile / That’s all I need for the day / And you are / My kind of joy / In the wilderness of my feelings / In the brokenness of my dreaming / Sweet.

She is saying she is done with our expectations of her, she is now in charge and has all the affirmation she needs to express herself in whatever way works for her.

Now listening to the song and understanding this background, I have an appreciation for its genesis and as I wait for the full album, I am assured it will be an eclectic mix of sounds, taking us back to the Miss Dana of ‘Zandisile’ and not the heavy, burdened Simphiwe of ‘Kulture Noir’, which is also okay as I realise there is space for all of her expressions in my heart.

As a Dana disciple, my only job is to warm up to this particular sound.

FURTHER LISTENING:

Listen here: My Light

Lyrics: My Light

Read: Firebrand:Simphiwe Dana’s new album

15 Comments
  1. Od jutra zaczynam odchudzanie, kto się odchudza ze mną?
    Znalazłam w internecie dobry plan na schudniecie,
    wygoglujcie sobie – xxally mój sukces w odchudzaniu

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