Tunde Baiyewu Diamond In A Rock CD 2013 (RCA)

Tunde Baiyewu
has announced details of a brand new solo album, Diamond In A Rock, for March 4. The Lighthouse Family frontman – who has achieved in excess of 20 million global sales – also releases a new single, ‘Move’, on March 4; Tunde’s first new material in over eight years.

A more soulful, personal and eclectic offering than his prior work, Diamond In A Rock suggests that there is more than may have initially met the eye with Tunde Baiyewu. He was born in the UK to Nigerian parents, but returned to Nigeria aged 4, following the death of his father. Tunde was immediately faced with the challenge of a new language (learning Yoruba would later heavily impact his singing style), and a new way of life; from the streets of London to the starkly rural school at Etiki, with the daily responsibility of collecting water from the stream to wash school-clothes. The lack of a father-figure saw Tunde become “withdrawn, introspective” and that pensiveness can still be felt in his writing today. “There’s a need for me to withdraw into my own space,” as he puts it.

Work on Diamond In A Rock started a couple of years back with the Lighthouse Family now signed to Sony Records following a hugely successful UK tour.  Tunde had written a number of songs for the band’s new album, but while trying to put the pieces together in a major label atmosphere, he was reminded of the creative tensions and compromises of being in the band and decided any new material couldn’t be fully realised if he didn’t have control of the process.  Instead, Tunde walked away from the group and went back to his roots, assimilating a lifelong love of the likes of Bill Withers with a mix of African and Western rhythms and textures.

The record was recorded in Portland (or “the new Nashville” as Tunde’s producer sold it), featuring an array of local artists: the critically acclaimed Catherine Feeny provides backing vocals to several tracks, with musical turns also coming from the likes of guitarist Jon Neufeld (from The Decemberists’ off-shoot Black Prairie). Tunde’s effortlessly soulful voice shines throughout – still as immediately recognisable now as it was in the heyday of The Lighthouse Family. Lyrically, the impact of marriage and children has mellowed his songwriting, quite literally transforming the vitriolic ‘Words In My Mouth’ (it referred to the tensions that ended the band) into something more reflective and loving.

Now that Tunde is free from the constraints of a group, he has admittedly come into his own. Yet despite the staggering success of The Lighthouse Family, Tunde stumbled into music almost entirely by accident. He left Nigeria for the UK at 19, hoping to study at university. As a young, eager immigrant, Tunde took whatever job he could find, cleaning offices and then working within the same bank that refused to open him an account (England’s government had accepted this African, but not everyone had read the memo). Friends forced Tunde into expressing his voice and sent recordings to a local radio station, as well as some recording labels, without him knowing.

Tunde Baiyewu’s distinctive voice comes from this rich, complex past, and on Diamond In A Rock, he finally begins to use it in the way you sense he’s always wanted to. “Now is when I need to really truly say what I want to say, the way I want to say it, as best as I can.”

Songs: Move, Blissful in no time, Diamond in a rock, Effigy, Awake, Turn the music on, Fear and fortune, Words in my mouth, The answer, We’re all in this together

Label: Waking Dreams LLP / RCA



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