Album Report: “Summer 22′” by Kijani Eshe // Nick G

Delia: Summer 22′, a first time collaboration between St. Louis musicians Nick G and Kijani Eshe, came out in January oozing sleazy pop rock to anticipate the summer haze to come. Now’s as good a time as ever to turn on the 6-track EP as St. Louis slowly gets sunnier and the trees turn into blooms. Each track embodies a lo-fi ethos with dream pop keys, garage rock guitar, drum machine beats, and the pair’s balanced vocal styles.

Julio: It’s been really exciting seeing what new collaborations have been brewing in the city’s underground after the 2020 shutdowns and the fluctuations in live venues, band lineups or actual shows happening (or not). The match of Kijani Eshe’s relaxed and breathy brand of R&B and synth pop with Nick G’s inclination for guitar-centric music and angular tonality seemed odd to me at first, but I found myself very excited to see what would come from their contrasting backgrounds.

D: In the first track K00LS, dangling around a grounding keys melody, Kijani intimately breathes out a striking first verse, followed by Nick’s more effect-heavy and monotone deepened voice. The longest track Love Again is a crooner ballad at first, with Kijani’s vibrato verse, then drifts to a woozier daydream space. In numerous spots in the EP, we snap out of the dream for a sec, like in Zero Beach when the refrain “wasting all my time-” cuts short, and then expands to a guitar solo. In my personal favorite and sassy track, Glossary (Lollie’s Book), Kijani and Nick sing in unison at first (“glossy love”?), braiding together a strong and playful force before Kijani takes over the lead spot in the melody.

J: Kijani’s vocal performance in K00LS exercises a powerful presence with its confidently nonchalant tone; it’s a short track, but Nick’s vocal tags and concluding hook help greatly in wrapping it up as a complete package. An inclination for the 80’s influenced dazed art pop sound of the late oughts tints the whole track list: the confusing rhythmic interactions of vocals and drums in Zero Beach, the tongue-in-cheek exaggerated inflection of their singing hovering over a hypnotic psychedelic loop in Glossary, the sample ridden outro of the easy-cruising Somewhere in Ocala to tag out of Kijani’s emotional melody, and the familiar glossy synth patches heard in at least a couple of layers of every song all work together to establish a slightly twisted take on a relatable and familiar palette.

D: The call-and-response and layering of different styles defines the coolness of the release, each song as catchy and fresh as the last. In a unique way, Summer 22′ could be listened to while dancing and rocking out as much as while sprawled out on lazy lawn furniture, chillin.

J: I can’t help highlighting the attitude being put forth throughout the runtime of this thing. There’s never a fear to be playful, silly or even funny at points. Beautiful cornerstone moments like the explosive middle section of Love Again are accompanied by plenty of synthesized cacophony, off-putting soundscapes and a healthy mix of sultry, relaxed and hilarious vocal work.

D: The duo played their first show together a couple weeks ago at Platypus in the Grove, a last minute addition to an already stellar bill of Stuck (Chi), Kids (editor Julio’s band <3), and new local band Pink Strap. We hope to see Kijani Eshe and Nick G play more shows in the humid months to come.

J: I had a really nice time playing with Kijani and Nick, and I should add that even the elusive RA Child had a guest MC spot on their setlist which was a very welcome surprise. I’m happy to see that this project wasn’t a simple one-off collaboration, but rather an intentional joining of contrasting forces that at least based on Summer 22′ already shows exciting potential. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

This Album Report is an experimental collaborative effort between Delia Rainey and Julio Prato. Since WordPress doesn’t allow for multiple authors on posts, the author listed at the top will be Delia. Let us know if you enjoy this new format for Album Reports.

Follow Kijani Eshe and Nick G on Instagram.

Listen to “Summer 22’” via Bandcamp below:

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