Ese & the Vooduu People: Rock-n-Roll Powerhouse with Soul
Written by: Miss K
Ese and the Vooduu People is a powerful, striking name. While it takes both an eye-catching name and fantastic music to transform a musician into an Artist, I can certainly acclaim that this is a band that carries the strength and substance to obtain such a transformation.
Recently amidst lockdown, Ese and the Vooduu People’s music has kept me company. Providing strong lyrics of empowerment as well as a general uplifting tone, their music makes lockdown pass by a little bit easier than without it. The band’s influences are found in the legendary names of Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, Led Zeppelin, The Isley Brothers, David Bowie, Prince and Skunk Anansie. These influences are observed and collected into a sound that is part rock, part funk, part soul – and completely incendiary!
The band’s debut EP was released in early 2018. Appropriately titled Dynamite after the first track, the music does not hold back; it is an exhibition of driving instrumentals and soulful vocals. The first two songs were recorded in the studio, but the rest of the tracks were recorded live. To paraphrase the title track – whatever you wanna call it, this band has got it. The first track builds slowly but confidentially with an explosive burst of a chorus. With sultry lyrics and soulful vocals, it builds a great excitement that is carried through the EP.
“Fairytale” was released as a single and one can certainly understand why upon hearing the track. The lyrics are just incredible; if the track had been released as a poem, even then it would have been lovely. It is simply a catchy song that also has substance. Ese displays not only her powerful vocals but her great guitar skills as well in a short but sweet solo. This is simply music to brighten one’s day even in depressing times.
The remainder of the EP is composed of live performances. I thought Ese’s vocals in the studio were amazing but somehow, they are even more impressive live. These energetic performances provide a different look at the band while exhibiting their talent and brilliance. Every track melts into a splendid EP, and the energy simply conveys from the music. Dynamite is just a taste of the brilliance of Ese and the Vooduu People but it is a perfect introduction.
In 2019, the album Up in Smoke was released. The album was completed in October 2018 and released by Quadrafon the following May. It starts with Ese stating: “I don’t wanna talk, man – let’s just fucking do it” – and that sums up the music pretty well as they waste no time to get into the groove that washes over the listener.
The album was made to “capture the essence of Ese & the Vooduu People’s electrifying live performances,” as Kevin Whitlock writes in the album’s sleeve notes. Four of the tracks were previously released on Dynamite as live performances but they have been perfected in the studio. Despite being in the studio, none of the energy is lost. This album not only perfects what awesomeness the band has already exhibited, but allows for fresh, new sounds to flow through and build several emotions.
A strong highlight is the lyrics. Ese proclaims her lyrics as they make their way into the listener and send one into a dream or a trance where they dwell to be admired again. The stories told are electrifying. The title track “Up In Smoke” seems almost autobiographical. One of my favorite lyrics comes from that track:
As she sings her tune
She knows it will be her time soon
She has no silver spoon
Just her guitar and
The light of the moon
It is not only the lyrics themselves that are so amazing but the delivery of them. Ese is simply a rock-n-roll powerhouse with soul! Her vocals are captivating, enhancing and just lovely to listen to. With Sheena Ross’ harmonies, the songs are elevated to the next level and will send shivers down one’s spine. The songs themselves are tales of love, heartbreak, and life in all its good and bad, but there is a glimmer of hope there, too, an emotion that is welcome amidst lockdown.
Four singles were released from the album: “Up In Smoke (414 Version)”, “Silver Spoon”, “Keep On”, and “I Don’t Mind.” The opening track “Up In Smoke” will always be a great kickstart to an album. “Silver Spoon” was one of the first songs I heard off the album, just shuffling on Spotify but the opening lyrics hit me and stuck. The song is fantastic with a strong funk-rock groove and surprisingly sounds cheerful despite the rather grim lyrics.
Ese & The Vooduu People “Silver Spoon”
Other tracks that would have made strong singles but will live on as highlights include the extraterrestrial rocker “Alien” and the soulful “Untitled” with its amazing harmonies. “Grey” is a track I adored on Dynamite, and the studio version is utterly beautiful. The blend of Ese’s guitar and Baird’s keyboards in the middle section is lovely. Ending at over seven-and-a-half minutes, not a minute is wasted. “Grey” is, for the moment, my favorite off the album but the whole album is incredible. The album ends with a retelling of “Grey” titled “Keep On (Grey Reprise)” and is a great end to a great album. The CD version of the album has a bonus track of “Up In Smoke (Instrumental Rough Mix)” which displays the anthem in a different light. The album is a wonderful continuation where the EP left off while displaying further exhibits of talent and passion, strength, and substance.
Ese & The Vooduu People “Grey”
Ese Okorodudu started on the streets of London as a busker, but her talent was soon discovered and is displayed on both Dynamite and Up In Smoke. Ese and the Vooduu People are Artists with a capital A. Yet, they remain nearly genre-less, drifting into rock, funk, and soul amongst the tracks. Not only is the band name memorable, but the music speaks for itself. If you want music that is uplifting yet remains authentic, open your ears to Ese and the Vooduu People. After I had heard any song off either of the albums, immediately it would be stuck in my head even if it was the first time I heard it.
Ese and the Vooduu People continue to make electrifying music that sparks hope. In June, the band released a cover of Plan B’s “She Said,” as a single from their upcoming second album Mercury in Retrograde. It has all the magic and all the talent previously displayed. I am eager to hear what the future of Ese and the Vooduu People sounds like as it is bound to be completely and utterly amazing.
The music of Ese & the Vooduu People is available on: