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Lloyiso Makes an Emphatic Impression with Debut “Seasons” EP

Lloyiso Makes an Emphatic Impression with Debut “Seasons” EP

Lloyiso Cover e1680523445304

Seasons is an exceptional debut project for a young talent pushing a relatively unconventional style for this part of the world. It also sets the bar really high for however Lloyiso chooses to follow it up…

By Yinoluwa Olowofoyeku

Seasons is the debut project by 24-year-old South African indie and soul pop singer, songwriter, and producer, Lloyiso. Lloyiso Gijana hails from a town just outside Port Elizabeth, where he realised his talent at a tender age, receiving appraisals in church and school choirs. He made his debut public appearance on SA’s Got Talent as an eager 14-year-old. At 16, he appeared on South African Idol and finished fifth.

He made a habit of singing wherever possible, even down to performing at local pubs in exchange for dinner. By the age of 20, he had made the Internet his stage, amplifying his voice globally by sharing on Facebook, YouTube, and the likes impressive covers of popular songs, garnering a massive following and even receiving appreciation from big-name American musicians. Having drawn the attention of major labels, he became the first South African to be signed to Republic Records, a subsidiary of the Universal Music Group. Now based out of Johannesburg, Lloyiso is set to launch himself fully into his music career, with Seasons intended to work as the rocket pad.

The EP begins with the title track, “Seasons,” a somber reflection on the ups and downs of a relationship that has run its course. From the very first note, you can hear what multiple people across the world have enjoyed about Lloyiso. His voice is a perfect vessel for emotion. His live experience on stage and in competitions is evident in the purity of his tone, the breath and pitch control he demonstrates, and the strength and clarity of his delivery. Over sparse pianos and bass pads, Lloyiso reveals another noteworthy feather in his cap; powerfully honest and introspective lyricism. With lyrics like “Is it because I don’t love my body? That you make me feel like you’re thе only one that loves me. Is it bеcause you’re my mother’s favorite? That when I don’t text you back you call her to get me,” Lloyiso shows that he won’t be relying on tried and tested lyrical cliches. And as the simple instrumentals crescendo towards the back end of the song, Lloyiso kicks the vocal prowess into high gear, dazzling with strong and steady falsetto high notes, as well as acrobatic vocal runs. All these facets cumulate in a title track that expertly introduces the artist, while sucking you into its narrative, and possibly extracting a tear or two from the empathetic listener. In one song, the appeal of Lloyiso is immediately apparent. And the best part is, it doesn’t end there.

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The pace increases ever so slightly on “Give a Little Kindness” with its pulsing bass, driving, understated drums and rhythmic guitars taking the mood from Ballads to Pop. And Lloyiso transitions his delivery to match, relying on shorter, simpler melodic phrases with less complex lyrics. However, Lloyiso does not sacrifice any quality in the transition. The word choice might be simpler, but the emotion communicated is still poignant, asking people to be kinder to themselves, with lyrics like “All this time I’ve been fightin’ tears. Maybe get a little therapy, Changin’ who I wanna be, I’ve been missin’ out, Take a little time if you gotta go, This is what it feels like, Give a little kindness to yourself.” The melodies are more structured but the singing is still stellar, embellished with efficient use of backing vocals, smooth harmonies and falsettos, as well as a catchy melodic hook built on a series of sharp ohhs.

“What Would I Say” is another toned-down Pop-styled song, built on soft-spoken filtered drums, warm bass guitars, rich acoustic pianos and sprinkled synth passages. On it, Lloyiso creatively espouses affection for a lover that leaves him speechless, saying “What do I do when you look at me the way you do? What do I say, baby? I can’t keep my breathing straight.” Even on songs where it seems like Lloyiso is not doing much, there seems to be an active decision to make sure each song has distinct melodic highlights, be they impressive notes or ear-catching harmonisation as is the case here.

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Lloyiso Portrait

“Run” brings the strongest drums we’ve heard so far, with an incessant tom drum and reverberating tambourine hits atop simple guitar chords. Lloyiso envisions running away from his fears and problems with lyrics like, “I’ve got this feeling, These jealous walls are coming down, I break through the ceiling, Nothing can keep me here in this house, Can’t shake them out my head, These dreams of running away, yeah,” spun into captivating melodies. The melodic highlight here is an impressive rising run that leads each verse into the spacious chorus.

“Let Me Love You Now” sounds a bit typical when it begins, starting with string pads and dampened pianos as Lloyiso waxes poetic about how perfect his lover is to him. And just when you think you know what the song has to offer, it detours into its chorus which features a thumping bass synth and a bright melodic chorus. I must admit that the song doesn’t seem as involved as many others on the tracklist, but even as the lowest point on the album, it is still a good song in its own right.

“Where Do We Go” brings back the solemn introspection over an instrumental comprised mainly of wailing strings and rich pianos. “God gave me life, Why shy away? Livin’ every minute fearlessly. Damn, I’m supposed to make this song about this pressure of society,” Lloyiso sings as he encourages people to find themselves safe spaces when they need love. A series of beautifully harmonised ululations usher in the drums as the song livens up. The final song, “Lonely without You,” allows Lloyiso to tug on the empathetic heartstrings again, describing the loneliness that comes after a long-term relationship ends. A host of deep soulful group vocals appear time and again on the song, heightening the emotion conveyed by Lloyiso’s voice and words. “Readin’ the last words you said to me back in October, These memories keep comin’ round and around and they leave me regrettin’, The smell of these walls keep on fadin’, Forgettin’ the scent that you left,” he laments over steady drums, shimmering guitars and twinkling synths. The delivery of this song communicates the sentiments so genuinely, and it elevates the song beyond just being a sum of its parts.

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Seasons wowed me from the very first listen, catapulting its way amongst my favourite projects of the year. This is a debut project that does not put a foot wrong in any aspect of its creation. Lloyiso introduces himself and his artistry flawlessly. You gain an understanding of who he is as an artiste: an emotive, expressive songwriter with extremely refined and capable vocal prowess. Every song on Seasons is a self-contained showcase of Lloyiso’s vocal dexterity as he belts out crystal clear notes in isolation, layers in rich and robust harmonies, soars to the peaks of his vocal range with minimal effort, and ties it all together with emotion-filled melodies. There is delicacy and softness, contrasted by power and loudness in equal measure. By virtue of vocals alone, Lloyiso is a pleasure to listen to.

Then this superpower of his is augmented by thoroughly effective songwriting. In a world full of cookie-cutter lyrics, idiosyncratic personal lyrics stand out from the crowd. While these stories and emotions may not be autobiographical, they come across as sincere and honest, in the word choice and the way the words are delivered.

Lloyiso Spread

Everything Lloyiso brings as a musician is wrapped up in immaculate production and engineering. No harmony line is lost or overpowered. The deepest notes of his register cut through the mix as clearly as the highest of his falsettos. Whether he is whispering or belting at full volume, the levels are clean and unwavering without sacrificing dynamics. The instrumentals come together congruently to form a consistent soundscape for Lloyiso to work within. A small part of me wishes there was a bit more variation in terms of style and sound selection, but this takes nothing away from the production work assembled for this project.

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Seasons is an exceptional debut project for a young talent pushing a relatively unconventional style for this part of the world. It also sets the bar really high for however Lloyiso chooses to follow it up. However, based on everything I have just heard, I think there is little need for worry as the sky is the limit for this gifted young man.

Lyricism – 1.7

Tracklisting – 1.5

Sound Engineering – 1.9

Vocalisation – 1.9

Listening Experience – 1.6

Rating – 8.6/10

Yinoluwa “Yinoluu” Olowofoyeku is a multi-disciplinary artist and creative who finds expression in various media.

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