Christmas lyrics can create an ocean of emotionality without a whole lot of assistance from behind the soundboard, and this statement couldn’t be any truer than it is in Gbeke’s new single and video “Afro Bells.” Commencing with a sweet beat that is quickly accented with a powerful lead vocal as sharp as a dagger through the heart, chemistry is the star from the jump in this track. Even when the singer begins to croon in a surprisingly warm and sensuous lead vocal, her voice is flanked by fretwork perhaps even more expressive than words could ever be on their own.
After about a minute and a half of grooving, “Afro Bells” suddenly ascends into a heavy-handed swing that is at first hard to notice, the rhythm of the percussion taking hold of the overall sonic direction.
The mounting thrust of Gbeke’s play swells larger and larger until it feels as though the beats are going to come spilling out of our speakers and into the room around us. There’s a hint of pop excess thrown into the mix as we near the finish line, but even at its most theatrical, the song never falls apart into campy, overused conceptualism for even a second.
Following a charismatic string of verses that could get even the biggest of grinches around into the holiday season right now, no matter the volume this track is played, a vitality-laced vocal leads us across the finish line as nothing else could. As if to take a final bow before disappearing into the darkness once more, our singer refrains from giving us an indulgent exit, allowing for the music to fade away like a setting sun. Although it’s hard to make Christmas music feel fresh and young anymore, “Afro Bells” is very much its own unique composition. For me, this will make my winter playlist a lot more exciting than it was beforehand.