Dallas, TX native Harry Edohoukwa has released his debut LP “Fire on the Mountain”. Having released a string of singles over the past two years, as well as 2019’s “Pack One” and “Pack Two” EPs, Harry is an emerging artist showing no signs of slowing down in the near future. In fact, The Austin Chronicle named him as one of this year’s “Must See Artists at SXSW”, where Harry headlined the Hotel Vegas stage with Jackie Venson and White Denim. In addition to killer live-show credentials, his latest sonic offering shows this is an artist who is serious about making an impact with his art.
Harry’s first single “Ric Flair” (2017) was certainly a good sign of things to come. The more retro sounding, blues-infused funk track (a la Lenny Kravitz) serves as sort of a jumping off point for a sonic trajectory that would lead us to his latest release. 2018’s “Silhouettes” EP takes a turn to a hip-hop sound with the neo-soul vibes of Isaiah Rashad and Kendrick Lamar. Adding further to his eclectic list of influences, is his 2019 single “Mad Max”, which features an 80’s sounding drum loop and spacey synth sound. A hint to the song’s namesake, 1979’s “Mad Max”, a cult-action film set in a dystopian future. “Fire on the Mountain” however, feels like a culmination of this artistic exploration whilst still paying homage to his influences.
According to the album’s press release, “Fire on the Mountain” is a “self reflective album that takes listeners down a path of introspection and self-love” and that it certainly does. Opening track “No Rule” invites his listener into what feels like the depths of his soul. Questioning himself in the opening lines, Harry croons “I thought I found peace / I thought I found me / I thought I found Jesus / I thought I was free?”. Channelling a reggae vibe with a hip-hop beat, the song perfectly encapsulates Harry’s ability to seamlessly blend two sounds into something unique without sounding overtly derivative.
The Kanye West influences peppered throughout “Fire on the Mountain” immediately jumped out at me. Ironically, as I was writing this, an interview of Harry discussing this very topic on the “Watch the Throne” podcast went live. Second track, “Did You Not Pray” incorporates elements of the blues, meanwhile “Black Sunday” draws upon a gospel sound through the use of rather angelic-sounding background vocals and an opening synth that closely resembles a church organ. It’s that distinct culmination of blues, soul, and hip-hop that seems to pay homage to the West sound.
Beyond the West-isms, “Fire on the Mountain” also dives into a plethora of other genres; everything from neo-soul, reggae, to alternative rock. The aforementioned blues vibes return in full swing on track 4: “Mayday”. Evident in particular from the vocals, which feature catchy repetition and a singing style that so effortlessly conveys Harry’s raw inner-turmoil – an underlying theme throughout the album.
Final track, “Road to Damascus” brings the LP to full circle. The name itself, is also a biblical passage (“Act 9:1-22- Saul’s Conversion”) and is often used to refer to “a turning point in one’s life”. After listening to the full album and truly feeling Harry’s inner-turmoil and journey of self discovery, “Road to Damascus” felt like his personal “rebirth”. The gentle, slowed down beat gives the song’s beautifully introspective lyrics center stage: “What’s the difference of where I’m at from where I’m going?” / “I was trying to be someone else for too long, I owe myself.” It’s a distinctly slower song versus the intensity of the previous tracks, which helps to give the album a sense of closure.
Whilst the album itself takes the listener on a journey of personal self-discovery, it also feels as though it’s part of an overarching journey of sonic and artistic discovery. As mentioned earlier, I felt some of Harry’s earlier songs each pointed to a more distinct influence, where as, “Fire on the Mountain” as a whole, feels like an amalgamation of years of artistic journey into a single “genre-less” sound. I’m excited to see what’s next for Harry Edohounkwa as his latest offering hints that this is certainly someone to watch in the future. Check out the album for yourself below and stay up to date with Harry’s journey by following him on Instagram.