No, I Never
The young Nigerian-Canadian confounds expectations by embracing the blues with every ounce of her frame. A somewhat ethereal vocal presence benefits from the muscular guitar work of veteran Madagascar Slim. All the songs are her own, inspired by the likes of John Lee Hooker and the travails of a person of ethnic minority in small-town Canada. The first few listens will provoke comparisons from Billie Holiday to Erykah Badu and then conclusions that Onukwulu is unique. It’s the laser sharp lines of “Wicked Lady” (about sexual manipulation) and “Hush” (motherhood in wartime) that best display her uniqueness. The only African aspect of the album is an open-aired aridity in the backing, before Slim jacks it back up to fighting weight.