Having already been lead singer of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and worked alongside the likes of Goldie and Disclosure, Kwabena Adjepong is well known within many areas of the music industry, and his debut album is evidence that he is already an accomplished singer-songwriter in his own right. Kwabs’ rich and varied musical experience is reflected throughout Love and War, and the title track is no exception. Combining elements of electronica, R&B, soul and even gospel music, it sets the tone for the rest of the album.
‘Fight for Love’ is the most house influenced track on the album, and is one of the more upbeat tracks on the album, whereas ‘My Own’, ‘Layback’ and ‘Make You Mine’ are all distinctly 90’s R&B inspired tracks, with samplers, synths and snares accompanying Kwabs’ distinct soulful vocals. However, his vocals stand out most profoundly in the slower and more minimalist songs on the album, including the moving ballad ‘Perfect Ruin’, where he explores the theme of a relationship on the point of break-up, questioning why it has got to this point and whether it can be fixed, asking “How long can lovers stand to prove that they were right? Why did I fold my hand? Why choose another fight?” His message of reconciliation is what makes this song so heartfelt and uplifting.
A number of songs on the album are influenced by Kwabs’ early life, in particular his upbringing by his foster parents. In ‘Father Figure’, Kwabs recalls his experience of growing up without his biological father and how he has been affected by this in later life. He sings that he’s been “trying to rewrite the past” and asks the poignant question “Who’d have known it was so hard to move on from a love that I never had?” which runs throughout the song.
‘Walk’ follows a similar lyrical theme. As well as being a powerful and instantly catchy song, there is ultimately a very positive message about moving forward in the face of adversity, especially in the line “When the road stops I’m gonna keep on until I end up in the place that I belong”. It is therefore very easy to see why this has been his most popular song to date, being a Top 10 hit in 12 countries and featuring on the FIFA 15 soundtrack.
Overall, Kwabs’ debut album is evidence that he is one of the great up and coming British songwriters. There is something for almost every kind of listener on this album and every song on this album reflects his varied personal and musical experiences, which will endear himself to his listeners not just as an artist, but as a human being.