With Palmwine Diaries Vol.1, Juls pays homage to his Ghanaian roots and creates a unique sonic experience for his listeners.
By Hope Ibiale
For about a decade now, the producer-tagline “Juls Baby” has preceded some of the best Afrobeats song releases. This tagline belongs to the famous British-Ghanaian producer and beats maestro, Juls. From Mr. Eazi’s “Skin Tight” to Show Dem Camp’s “Feel Alright” which spearheaded their “Palmwine Music” series to Wizkid’s “True Love”, Juls has been at the forefront of making timeless music. After releasing his debut album, Sounds of My World in 2021, the multitalented producer is back with his latest project, Palmwine Diaries Vol.1.
In the 6-track EP, Juls assembles a stellar cast of Ghanaian artistes: Cina Soul, Sarkodie, KiDi, Black Thought, Worlasi, R2Bees, Pure Akan, KWW, Twitch 4ver, Dayonthetrack, Kofi Mole, and Quamina MP. With Palmwine Diaries Vol.1, Juls pays homage to his Ghanaian roots and creates a unique sonic experience for his listeners. He explores love and bliss in this project, perfectly matching Ghanaian Highlife music with his signature Banku sound.
Palmwine Diaries Vol.1 opens with “Unfortunately”. Here, Juls collaborates with R2Bees, Sarkodie, and KiDi to deliver a “palm wine” music version of a love song. From the love-leaning lyrics to the tender way the artistes speak to their love interests, “Unfortunately” takes a different route from the other songs on the EP whose central theme is around living to the fullest. Sarkodie delivers with his pristine flow, while KiDi takes charge of the chorus. R2Bees is effortless with his verse. This song is clearly descriptive of a well-arranged song, and it is a great starter for the project. The well-selected features, the chemistry among the artistes, and the well-crafted production chops, beautifully harmonise the song together.
On the next song, “Enjoyment”, there is a transition from guitar strings to an upbeat production, and then a short pause that introduces Pure Akan. It is an impressive run, and the introduction already sets the excitement for what awaits. “Enjoyment” is a delightful listen. The song title perfectly captures the song’s description. It reminds me a lot of listening to my father’s collection of Yoruba albums, and despite not understanding the Ghanaian language, “Enjoyment” remains a memorable tune.
In “Focus”, Juls, Black Thought, Worlasi, and Kofi Mole transport listeners to a more serene atmosphere. After rocking the dance floor with “Enjoyment”, listeners can relax with a cup of palm wine with “Focus”. Laced with drums, background vocals, and saxophones, “Focus” is a breezy track that shows off the dexterity of the featured artistes. The chorus could pass as something off a Fela Kuti album.
A gruff voice begins “Wossop”, Here, Juls features Dayonthetrack, Twitch 4EVA, Kofi Mole, KWW, and Quamina MP. One outstanding aspect of “Wossop” is its ability to accommodate diverse artistes and still sound wholesome. The singers bounce off each other’s energy, while the baritone-toned artiste balances the song on the hook. The music video also featured the artistes in several locations, first at a recording studio and then at a club. This conveys the artists united and having a good time, further channelling the heartiness that the track showcases.
In “Sometin Small,” Highlife and Afrobeat collide. At a closer listen, one can tell the track was inspired by Afrobeat. The shakers and drums, Worlasi’s beat manoeuvre, and Cina Soul’s ethereal vocals switch the dynamic of the song, they all point back to the intersection between Highlife and Afrobeat. “Sometin Small” easily stands out in terms of production and performance, and Juls’ attention to detail is divine.
Palmwine Diaries Vol.1 closes with “Palmwine Riddim”. Juls goes on solo on this record, and only percussions, shekeres, shakers, and trumpets can be heard, with a background conversation tugged along by the backup vocals. “Palmwine Riddim” adds a unique touch and gives listeners a chance to reflect on the entire project. It comes across as the end credits rolling as the project ends. It also serves as a prelude to what to expect in the upcoming volumes.
Palmwine Diaries Vol.1 is a commendable addition to Juls’ discography. The 6-track project demonstrates Juls’ ability to thrive as a creator and curator of different sounds. The EP sparkles with its deliberate features and infusion of Afrobeat and Highlife. No song or feature feels out of place, and each artiste delivers noteworthy verses. Palmwine Diaries Vol.1 is one project where Juls delves deeply into his roots, which ultimately results in a collection of songs that represent classic Ghanaian music.
Some might say that the project was solely made for the Ghanaian audience, but good music travels across borders irrespective of its style, genre, or language. Luckily, Palmwine Diaries Vol.1 is a collection of good music. The project is a smooth introduction to the “Palmwine Diaries” series, and the sonic cohesion helps heighten the listening experience of the album.
Lyricism – 1.2
Tracklisting – 1.2
Sound Engineering – 1.3
Vocalisation – 1.3
Listening Experience – 1.5
Rating – 6.5/10
Hope Ibiale is a writer, and a book lover.