Artists/DJ: Sihle Mbatha
Album Title: Raging Fire
Year of Release: 2011
Sihle Mbatha is a new gospel sensation who does not have a bad voice at all. Her latest project, Raging Fire, is a mix of worship songs with a bit of up-tempo material that could potentially make a listener rejoice in the Holy Name. One thing is for sure, Mbatha has chosen to stay away from the traditional gospel style of music that has made some local artists such as Rebecca Malope so successful, and has focused instead on modern gospel music.
For her debut on the music scene, the vocalist offers some smooth singing. Packed with eleven songs, the album opens with a heart piercing song, ‘Raging Fire'. This track is about the undying love Mbatha has for Jesus. Even though there are a few subtle vocal distortions at certain points of the song, this is not a bad composition. The Rhodes keys accompanied by a laid back bass line make the song appropriate to kick-start your Sunday with.
The second song, ‘We Do Believe', is up-tempo but sounds a little bit all over the place. Judging from some of the songs on this project, it is safe to say that the artist is really able to perform to her utmost when she tackles the worship songs.
While Mbatha seems to have found comfort in the laid back songs, it is advisable that she also try a few traditional gospel songs. By doing so, she will be able to cross over and cater for both markets.
One important aspect of any piece of music is that the song should be able to touch the inner soul regardless of the language in which it is sung. For the majority of this album, it does not sound as if the vocalist tried to sing from the bottom of heart in order to touch her listeners.
While this album does not sound bad, it certainly does not fully inspire the listener to give it another spin. Even though not every song will be able talk to the soul, it is important for Mbatha to make songs that can do the rounds and not lose their momentum easily. Leading gospel artists recruit their massive followers simply because they offer songs that everyone can easily relate to. It is for this reason that when songs like ‘Mphefumlo Wam' by Lundi play, they still talk to the soul like a fresh tune even though they were released a while ago. This is one skill that this artist has to learn and adopt because it will eventually play a vital role in her musical journey.
Although her music is perfectly crafted, in some songs it feels as if the vocals were rushed to join the marathon. It would have been nice for those who worked on the technical side of the project to let the music massage the soul before they added vocals to take the songs to greater heights.
All in all, this is not a bad album; it is listenable and can potentially win many modern gospel music lovers' hearts. As for her singing ability, Mbatha does have the voice and swims around the melodies comfortably. If pointed in the right direction, Mbatha can offer great songs that will live in the hearts of music lovers for some time.
Cover/Art: 2½/5 | Sound/Technical: 3/5 | "I like it factor": 3/10
MIO Rating: 2 ½/5