It’s been one year and a half since IC Omoallen released his debut LP, Star In The Garden. An album that saw the rise of his “…In The Garden” album-naming rhetoric, and he deemed it fit to keep the concept by naming his next project, a 7 track EP: Fire In The Garden. IC personally described the album as an “ongoing conversation” from his last album. IC’s approach to Star In The Garden can be described as daring and forward-thinking. In a society where many new artists prefer to play safe and release Eps as debut albums, IC made a subtle statement by making an LP release. A show of confidence and a great sense of security in his craft and sound.
IC’s approach to Fire In The Garden is more streamlined, compared to his previous body of work. Side by side with Rhappy and other producers, he forges a blend of Afrobeats, Reggae and Dancehall music.
Although Fire In The Garden isn’t a great album, it is not a terrible one either. The first track, Champion proves to be a very enjoyable record, incorporating a bumpy guitar riff over a distinct hi-hat percussion, he proclaims the first words on the album: /they do not know what champions use their eyes to see, I see/. He then goes on to sing over a ghosty synth rhythm. Champion is impressive, not only in simple instrumentation but in lyrics as well. The track embodies IC’s vision for the EP, as he expressed in a press release: “I am hopeful that this body of work is a mean to a beginning. The start of a new type of consciousness for my people especially in a time when our world is swimming in a sea of uncertainty,” he announced.
The 2nd track “Burning” should have epitomized the theme of the EP even better, but any hopes of a conceptualization was quickly clouded by poor lyricism and an unneeded autotune. And although the saxophone embellishment is commendable, the overall production of the track feels very underwhelming, to say the least. We can all agree that starting the 2nd verse with: /guguru no be epa, epa no dey turn guguru/ shows an obvious lack of lyrical effort.
IC’s hook and verse on “Flossy” is a bit of a head-scratcher. Although it exhibits a huge potential, it ends up feeling rush and undoctored. The RainyMilli’s rap verse, however, is a breath of fresh air.
Speaking of a breath of fresh air, “Mad Love” is an Afrobeats record with quality instrumentation. The fast-paced beat along with sweet melodious guitar licks will create an intensely enjoyable experience for any listener. Choosing the song as a mid-track on the tracklisting was a great selection by IC (who executively produced the album as well). Mad Love might just be the sleeper hit of the EP, all thanks to IC’s better lyrical approach and the use of common Nigerian lingua.
“Myself” is an Afropop track that incorporates the use of a spectacular guitar rhythm and it goes without gainsaying that Skales verse on the track is an added embellishment to the style and aesthetic of the album experience. “I Cry” on the other hand bangs as a full-blown reggae tune. With a great hook and some lyrics to back it up, I Cry is one of the best tracks on the project.
The last record “Bicycle” is a great tune overall except for IC’s choice of chorus, which sounds very much below par. Although the song works fine as the album’s outro, it doesn’t add much to the tracklist that the previous tracks haven’t added already.
Fire In The Garden presents an enjoyable experience for any listener if it is given the benefit of in-depth listening. Songs like Mad Love, Myself and Champion are very good records and they reveal the quality of music that IC Omoallen is capable of producing.
Album Score: 5.5/10