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Review: Day by Day - Femi Kuti and The Positive Force

After seven years there’s finally a new studio album from Femi Kuti and The Positive Force. The vibrant live album Africa Shrine (2004) forms the link between the two studio albums as it contains several songs from both. Day by Day also contains several “new” songs that have been part of Femi’s live repertoire for the last few years. While 2001’s Fight to Win featured several celebrity’s from Hip Hop and RnB, this time it’s just Femi Kuti and The Positive Force.

For convenience, I’ll divide the songs on Day by Day into three categories. Number one is Femi’s fast paced, catchy, Motown influenced trademark Afrobeat. These include three exciting studio versions of songs like Oyimbo that were featured on Africa Shrine. At the same time there are also several new songs with very fast paced vocals from Femi and the gang like Demo Crazy.

The second category consists of songs that fall in the jazz-funk category. A good example is Do You Know in which Femi pays homage to his musical heroes (Coltrane, Ellington, his father and others). You Better ask Yourself is another good example. This album is Femi’s most extensive foray into Jazz territory so far in his career. Being no Jazz expert myself, I still think he does a great job!

Now you’re curious about the third category. Many may think that the term “ballad” doesn’t exist in the Afrobeat vocabulary. This may or may not be the case, but Day by Day is a ballad for sure. It’s a simple song as far as composition and lyrics are concerned, but at the same time it’s a truly beautiful song with a truly beautiful message. It makes a great lullaby.

Day by Day was recorded in Paris in the summer of 2007. Femi is back playing trumpet, and is doing it better than ever.  The forays into forms of Afro-American music in no way compromise Femi’s political message. The injustice and poverty in Africa is still the driving force behind Afrobeat, just as it was in the days of his father, Fela. This is a truly superb album; every song on it is a gem. May The Positive Force be with you Day by Day!