Her superb album, Simple Songs for Complicated Times, shares potent, candid songs
Featured Act: Ndidi O

Simple Songs for Complicated Times by Ndidi O
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Ndidi O is performing at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival July 19-21 (Franco P. Tettamanti photo)


Ndidi O’s superb album shares potent, candid songs

In the almost 20 years since recording her first album, the resonance and clarity of Ndidi Onukwulu’s supple voice has only grown stronger. So too the wisdom and insight that colours her lyrics. The tunes on her sixth solo album – Simple Songs for Complicated Times – aren’t so simple. They convey the weight of love lost, hard times, soul-searching at middle age and more.

The album is a follow-up to her well-received 2022 duet with guitarist Trish Klein, (Be Good Tanyas, Po’ Girl) The Blue and The Gold, a tribute to songs penned and sung by the pioneering women of the blues. The blues are prominent and deftly woven into her new work but Ndidi O’s love of musical variety also offers ballads, some gospel as well as a couple of country-tinged pieces..

Since the words on Simple Songs are her own Ndidi O shapes them in her inimitable way – vocals smooth as a still lake in summer and all its depth.

“…lyrically the best album I’ve ever written.”

“This new album is my most intentional … It’s probably lyrically the best album I’ve ever written,” she told the podcast XtremeBPM on Ejazz Radio in March.

“Sonically it’s very warm…there’s a lot of life to it … a lot of analog. It was live off the floor with incredible musicians. And what I’m talking about is very potent and very specific. And how I arrange the songs there – it’s a journey.”

On the journey she reunites with frequent collaborator and former Vancouverite Steve Dawson who produced her second album – The Contradictor – in 2008. He plays guitar and fills production duties on the new recording crafted at his Henhouse studio in Nashville. The band includes respected Vancouver musicians Chris Gestrin (keyboards) and singer extraordinaire Dawn Pemberton.

On the album’s 11 songs Ndidi O offers candid insights, strong assertions and a keen understanding of life in middle age.
• On the opening song Get Gone she tosses a callous lover :”‘Cause I am a force /You never understood.”

• On Ode to Death she delivers herself from depression: “I’ve come to realize that you and I don’t belong /Tried to dance, fall out of step, our timing is all wrong”

In other songs she examines her time of life: “Middle aged women, we’re slowly becoming invisible unless we’re trying to be over the top or something that we’re not, ” she told XtremeBPM.

“So there’s just something scary, but also very powerful about this stage in a woman’s life for me … I want to celebrate it and the way I know how to celebrate is creating music and creating songs and putting on performances.”

She closes the album on a liberating note with Worth:

“Well, I guess my worth as a woman on this Earth
Is wrapped up in what I can give
And how well I perform and how well I conform
And how well I keep tapdancing

“I don’t have a house, don’t have a car
Ain’t got no man, don’t want your kids
My worth isn’t mеasured by the systems you’vе built
Said no, no, I said no, not anymore”

Simple Songs for Complicated Times is a powerful collection of stories beautifully written, sung and played. Check it out. Even better, come hear Ndidi O and her band in person at the folk festival this July at Jericho Beach Park.

Kurated is a music sharing project.
Kris Sig Plastic V3

11 May 2024

About Festival 47

The 47th Annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival runs from July 19 to 21

Early Bird tickets are available and you can purchase them at The Festival

Listen to the excellent 40-song Festival sampler curated by the discerning ear of artistic director Fiona Black. And while you’re at it check out Jim Byrnes’ excellent version of Tom Thumb’s Blues and Dawn Pemberton’s rendition of Oh Susannah!

The full artist line-up and Main Stage 3-Night line-up


Hear Ndidi O’s 11 tunes from Simple Songs for Complicated Times

On Spotify

On YouTube