Femi - Sweet Water Soul -
Monday, 23 February 2009

And still the quality keeps on coming! Talking House records from San Francisco release this 6-track EP by Femi, and the whole package is very sophisticated, well packaged and major label quality. The booklet and artwork – the packaging – is very smart and top notch. The photography here is professional and the location on the back cover is stunning. Musically, too, no expense has been spared. The musical backing is real, rich and warm. Just take a sip of track one, “Sweet Water” and hear the sexy, infectious percussion and rasping flute and already we're under no illusion of quality. This is the sort of material that Erykah Badu could do if she was so inclined. Vocally sparse, this segues into the fully-blown vocal cut, “Imported”. More percussion, guitar and flute await us here as well as some very smooth backing harmonies.
A cut that should get a few heads nodding is “Crush”. With a funky bassline and juicy percussion Femi delivers a groove almost in line with what we could expect, say, from a new Sade album – though Femi has a far better vocal range. I really like Femi's vocals and the quicker we receive a full and proper album release the better. Skipping the Reggae tune, “If I Know”, we hit a jazzier note with the brilliant “I Want You”. The fender rhodes keyboards and bass guitar sound absolutely delicious and make this the cream track on the EP. What a great cut this is, and makes a mockery of 99% of what the big labels are releasing. The final track is called “Pages”. Not a cover of the 1999 George Benson gem, but a summery floater that will simply take you to a warmer and more relaxing plane. Not unlike all the compositions on this EP, the lyrics are of a high standard and very much aimed at the intelligent listener. What a lovely introduction to a very lovely Lady.

Barry Towler - soulchoonzreviews

FEMI Drops Long-Awaited Solo Debut, plays Yoshi's - Monday, Feb. 16 2009

 Femi may be the Bay Area's best-kept secret. That phrase gets tossed around a lot, but in her case, it's highly applicable. The Afro-Rican soulstress has tempted many local music fans over the years with her dynamic live performances and sultry hooks on other people's songs, but has kept us waiting...and waiting... and waiting for her own solo project, rumored since at least 2004.
The wait is finally over; Femi has finally dropped her debut album Sweet Water Soul, and as the title implies, it's a fluid mix of musical elements and deep emotion. Afro-Caribbean accents distinguish it from any other contemporary R&B/ neo-soul project, and though its sparse number of songs make it more of an EP than an LP, Femi covers more territory on six songs than some artists have their entire careers. Anyone into Sade, Les Nubians, Goapele, or Ledisi shouldn't have any problems feeling the sultry grooves Femi lays down.

But don't just take our word for it. You can experience Sweet Water Soul and Femi's highly-reputed stage show for yourself, tonight at Femi's official record release party at Yoshi's original Oaktown location. Prepare for the show by peeping some tracks on Femi's MySpace page (which has some really cool exclusive remixes on it, btw) and/or check out this Vlog on the making of the record.

Eric K. Arnold, SF Weekly

FEMI - Exclusive Interview - Sweet Water Soul Out Now! - December 18, 2008


FUSICOLOGY: Where are you from?

FEMI: I was born in Berkeley and raised in Oakland, CA

FUS: How would you describe your sound?

FEMI: I would describe my sound as a mix of Neo-Funk & Soul with a dash of Jazz.

FUS: What makes you stand-out as an artist?

FEMI: That’s for the listener to decide.

FUS: What is One thing people don’t know about you?

People say that my sense of humor is a mix between Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx

FUS: What other projects are you invloved in and what is your role?

FEMI: Aside from my Solo project “Sweet Water Soul”. I am the synth player and lead singer for the band ‘Punk Funk Mob’ and I also play and sing with ‘JamieStarr’…google it!

FEMI - Sweet Water Soul - December 2008
The Urban Music Scene

If you dig the style of the flute, then find a special place on the couch somewhere. You are about to get served a got portion of it in "Sweet Water (Rezo)", right alongside a plate of soft, mushy lyrical arrangements FEMI gave to ya a-la-carte. "....come into the water...let me fill you..."; And the music mix fades into an ocean breezed, tranquil guitar harmony...opening up sliding doors to "Imported". Just as tasteful & plush as the title sounds, expressing a reminder of how some exotic, eloquent Caribbean sounds can be found without having to travel to the region for it. And again, the flute is just another highlight awaiting your ears. FEMI adds her vocal blessings with sensuality, feel & persistence.

The musical flow doesn't budge. It doesn't even pause for a second. As the compositions fade into each other, FEMI & her personnel now has the listener in a pure bliss when she delivers "Crush". NOW examine & see what I was talking about in the beginning. Reggae lovers will delight with the background essence of "If I Knew" & the Neo-Soul/Jazz players will dig FEMI'S "I Want You". Now check it: The versatility she brings to this project will simply amaze & move you. 'Nuff said. The 6 track EP finishes with making you crave for more songs from FEMI, right after "Pages" has well drifted pass your listening moment.

The embodiment of peaceful harmonies, well orchestrated, arranged songs demands more from where it came from. I would drop a coin for this EP in a hot minute. Who are y'all tellin'? I couldn't get enough of this project & will have to confess for a certain fact: FEMI has it going on.

Like I mentioned before, "'Nuff said".

The Urban Music Scene

Femi Interview & eSpot Music Artist of the Week - November 30, 2008
eSpot Music Artist of the Week

5 Questions with Femi
By Shelia M. Goss
Describe yourself in three words or less.
Spiritual, Passionate and Funny!

What do you do in your spare time when you want to relax and unwind?
In my space time I like watching my favorite t.v shows (I watch them online because i don’t own a t.v) I absolutely LOVE CSI (VEGAS FIRST, THEN MIAMI), Heroes & Daily Show w/Jon Stewart (he’s just a ham but intelligent). When i want to truly unwind I go for a RUN.

What was the last good movie you saw?
Lost in Translation and Garden State

What music artists do you listen to the most?
I listen mostly to the old-school stuff Prince aka Jamie Starr, James Brown, Teena Marie, etc. and all things FUNK…but the more modern artist included Punk Funk Mob, Omar, Sy Smith, Noisettes and I’m really feeling SKA music from the 70’s right now.

Pick three songs from your CD and tell me about each one.
- “Crush” - i like this song because it’s a love song but not in the traditional sense. It takes me back to an era of when Sade first came on the scene…Timeless! Classy! Introspective!

- “If I knew” - Its got an old-school reggae vibe and makes me want to be on a beach in a tropical place with a drink in my hand admiring the ocean and all of it mysteries.

- “I Want You” - I loves this one because it reminds me of the group Earth, Wind & Fire. The horns section is fierce! It’s my idea of what Hybrid-Jazz would sound like.

I was recently introduced to Femi’s music with Sweet Water Soul.  Sweet Water Soul is refreshing and relaxing music. It reminded me of music from the early 80s. Femi’s sound is a blend of R & B and jazz. You can tell what her influences were while listening–she seemed to pull from some of the greats like Sade, Phyliss Hyman and others.

Interview by Shelia M. Goss

Funk and Soul Artist FEMI Releases Debut EP Sweet Water Soul - November 2008
Collected Sounds

Los Angeles, CA-November 24, 2008-FEMI has come a long way in a short period. She rose up from the Oakland underground to record her grand entrance into the world of recorded music with Sweet Water Soul.

FEMI’s debut, a six track EP titled Sweet Water Soul, features funky grooves of hot buttered soul and a sweet sultry voice that echoes Sade at the height of her popularity in the 80s.

With a stunning visual picture of her music, FEMI takes you “there” right inside the music. Her sensuality and style draw you in and refuse to let go. This kind of command and power are indeed a rarity today. The music of FEMI has a crossover appeal that you can relate to on many different levels. Her sound is a unique and compelling blend of neo-funk meets soul with roots that reach down deep and draw from the wellspring of Afro-Latin/Caribbean rhythms, jazz, hip-hop, salsa and rock. The music sounds like it could be equally effective blasted on a dance floor of a late-night club or played softly on your stereo in the car en route to work.

A Bay Area native of Puerto-Rican ancestry, FEMI has established her musical presence with her powerful yet sweet vocalizations that flow passionately through soulful and poetic song-writing, enabled by top-notch production. Tracks such as “Imported,” which feature spicy Spanish-rhythm guitars were inspired by her first trip to Puerto Rico and set the stage for a suite. The concept of water is strong throughout the EP, and it is this element that guides listeners on a musical journey, painted by a romantic tapestry of flute, keys, guitar and percussion.

FEMI has toured throughout the US in venues from Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and her hometown of the Bay Area. She has worked with and/or opened for international recording artists like the Black Eyed Peas, Ledisi, Goapele, Mystic, Martin Luther and Les Nubians. FEMI will be touring in 2009 to promote Sweet Water Soul.

Posted by Amy

FEMI: album review - November 22, 2008

FEMI takes me back to a Sade concert I attended in San Francisco in the 1985-86 time frame. These are fond memories because I was jumping head first into exploring jazz and all of its sub genres. Sade was a combination of pop and jazz that I found very appealing. FEMI is similar and has the same appeal for listeners that like a musical stew that includes pop, funk, soul, R & B, and the far away fringes of hip-hop, all propelled by a formula that uses jazz as its springboard.

Sweet Water Soul is an impressive EP debut that introduces you to an artist that is not afraid to bare her soul and heritage to the world. While using water as the driving force and or theme of the project, her firm roots in Puerto Rico are the piece of her soul that helps her to realize her highest expectations deep inside, pushing her performing abilities to its very zenith. The six tracks put FEMI on the stage in your mind with a smooth groove that matches her sultry sweet vocals. This is modern day romanticism set to music with old-fashioned values. That combination works very well for the vocalist and I can see a huge potential for cross-pollination into several radio ready areas. Tracks 1-3 hold you steady with their hypnotic beats and that sensual soft voice of FEMI that cries out for your attention through the wall of music around her. By the time you get to “I Want You”, you realize the potential for repetition may start setting in with that funky bass line; however, some real nice brass arrives in between the vocals and other instrumentation to keep it all interesting and change the flow. This is a solid EP and I think this artist has enormous talent and could easily branch out musically, expand upon the concrete foundation laid down here on Sweet Water Soul, and become an artist that is on everyone’s play list.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck

NEW MUSIC from FEMI - November 2008

This Bay Area native of Puerto-Rican ancestry has established her musical presence with powerfully sweet vocals, passionately poetic song writing and sultry production. Her music has been defined as neo-funk & soul but its roots go much deeper with an infusion of afro-latin/carribean rhythms, jazz, hip-hop, salsa and rock, blending perfectly to create a unique sound all her own. As one of the pioneers of the Oakland underground music scene, FEMI has laid the groundwork as an emerging artist, captivating the heart, soul and ears of those in the Oakland art community and beyond. Some of her most recent accomplishments have been working with and/or opening for national & international artists like the Black Eye Peas, A-plus (Hieroglyphics Records), Ledisi (Verve Records), Goapele (Skyblaze Records), Mystic, Ron Trent (Prescription Records), Martin Luther & Les Nubians.

Although I am waiting to review her album, I previewed a few songs on her myspace page and was taken by her mood transporting vocals. The production is tops and compliments her alluring voice. From her recently released album, "Sweet Water Soul", we have a single titled "IF I KNEW" and features a earthy reggae vibe. Visit Femi on myspace to drop some feedback. You can purchase her album HERE or on itunes.

FEMI: R&B performer takes the plunge - November 2008

The only real obstacle blocking sultry soul singer Femi Andrades from delivering her first album was herself.

"It was all in my head, whether I could do it, should do it, was good enough to do it, and after a while it was like, 'I am!' " says Femi, who performs under her first name. "I don't show it on the outside, but I've always been afraid. I came to my own self-realization that I could do it. It took me seven months to come up with everything. I sat with myself and hashed it out. It came from the most genuine, vulnerable place in myself."

When she takes the stage at Maxwell's Lounge in downtown Oakland on Friday, she'll be celebrating the release of "Sweet Water Soul" on Talking House Records. It may have taken her years to finally take the plunge, but Femi has used the time well, creating a highly personal statement marked by flowing, sensuous grooves and glistening, crystalline arrangements.

Working with producer PC Muñoz, Femi developed a program of six songs that flow together like an extended suite. Clocking in at 30 minutes, the project falls somewhere between an EP and an album. The CD's distilled concision makes "Sweet Water Soul" a highly satisfying draught for those who like their R&B served up righteously chilled. Femi plays the bulk of the instruments herself on the album, though at Maxwell's she'll be joined by a savvy soul-jazz combo featuring pianist Ajayi Jackson, guitarist Paul Hunt, bassist Stephen Smith, drummer Michael Williams, trumpeter Mark Wright, tenor saxophonist Dayna Stephens and backing vocalist Soultre James.

Femi's latest aural incarnation might surprise some of her longtime fans. A few years back, she fronted a neo-funk unit blending gospel with Parliament-type grooves. She's delved into jazz and salsa, house and hip-hop, reggae and soul, while also drawing inspiration from her family's Puerto Rican roots. She's worked as a dancer, performance artist, and hip-hop MC. As Femi sees it, "Sweet Water Soul" isn't a newfangled beverage, it's an outpouring from a spiritually grounded period in her life.

"Most people who know me from seeing me perform might think this stuff is really mellow," Femi says. "But I was in (a) very peaceful, grounded state. I love nature. I love building a fire and the sound of running water and putting my hands in the dirt. That's part of me in addition to the urban, edgy thing. This is my diary. I'm a Puerto Rican person, but I'm from East Oakland. I'm black and hip-hop. This music reflects the moment where I was at, and the next moment could be completely different."

Friday @ Maxwell's Lounge: veteran oakland vocalist Femi celebrates the release of her long-awaited first album, "Sweet Water Soul." 9 p.m., $12-$15, 21+. 341 13th St., Oakland. (510) 839-6169, www.maxwellslounge.com.

Andrew Gilbert, 96Hours@sfchronicle.com