Morgan Ji: ‘Woman Soldier’ review

Morgane Ji is a singer and guitar player from the tiny island of Réunion.

The French-speaking country of Ji’s birth is predominantly notable for two things; its geographic inertia and its volcanic landscape. (Less famously – but more amusingly to a man with an adolescent mind such as myself – one of its larger towns is called ‘The Tampon’.)

And all of the above (sanitary products excepted) shine through vividly in Ji’s music.

Dealing with the stuff you can see on a map first, despite having latterly been colonized by the French, Réunion floats in the middle of the Indian Ocean, sort of somewhere in the middle of Africa, India and Asia.

And this cultural promiscuity is one of the most arresting features of her music. Witness how Woman Soldier effortlessly weaves together the Western sounds of military snare drums, banjoes and subtle electronic decorations with African harmonies in the backing vocals and Creole steel-drums.

Elsewhere on the eponymous EP from which this track comes, these elements are toyed with – often stretched, morphed and exaggerated to brilliant effect (listen to how the electronics take centre stage in the chorus to Homo Sapiens or the African vocals lead the outro to Kossa Sa) – and then joined by everything from Jews harps to rock guitars.

But what I love about Woman Soldier, in particular, is the way in which it also brings the volcanicity. Those massive, soul-shaking war drums, that lyrical call-to-arms, the powerful lead vocal.

Much like the earth from which she came, Morgane Ji’s music is a force of nature, fierce and confrontational, while also being a celebration of both her roots and branches that span continents.

Woman Soldier is the first release from her second release which is out now through Aztec Musique.


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