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Monday, July 14, 2008

Angella Katatumba returns with 'Glad I’m Alive'


After a two-year “disappearance”, Angella Katatumba is back with her second album, Glad I’m Alive. The 10-track album, she says, is purely inspirational.

“As Africans, we’ve had so much pain so I set out to do something that will make you appreciate life more and feel good.” The title track validates her words more.

She sings beautifully on this one about “a brand new day,” the happiness of living and the powerful feeling inside that makes her feel like she can “move mountains as high as the Rwenzori...”

She strikes a balance in that half the recordings are disco-like with much emphasis on the beat that will compel audiences to get on the dance floor. In this category are Set Me Free, a gospel-inspired hit that has the vibrancy of Mary Mary’s Shackles, and Success styled like Sikyetaga, her “oldie” with Bebe Cool.

Angella decided she needed Navio’s (of Klear Kut) rapping skills on Feel Alright and together, they plead with patrons to sway and feel the vibe while the deejay plays the record to the end.

She features First Love on A Better Place, a therapeutic reggae jam that preaches togetherness and asks “soldierman” to put the gun down and give a little love instead. It’s a rhythmic song; lots of guitar sounds, drums, and recorded live to fall into contemporary Caribbean music. Forgiveness is a politically conscious song about displacement, bloodshed and the Rwanda genocide.

It prescribes love and mercy for pain. The strumming, the saxophone, soft claps, drums and rattles, finger snaps and other computer generated sounds alongside the choir are maximised to bring out the freshness on songs like Thank You, Without You, Wind Beneath Your Wings and Pledge; melodies in the league of her first single, Standing in the Rain.

Pitted against Glad I’m Alive, her first album, Peace, is an underdog. The singer has a more focused message and has matured vocally although I got the feeling she struggles on one or two songs especially when she tries to build to a crescendo only Whitney Houston is capable of.

One must however appreciate her dynamism in combining different elements from different genres of music to create something that somewhat embraces the demeanour of American R‘n’B but also retains a heartbeat-like-rhythm Ugandans so love.

Produced at First Love Records, the album, if you ask me, deserves space in the CD jacket of those who like to dance, love and get inspired.

--Daily Monitor, June 28, 2008