The Soulful Sounds of Kwesi Kankam

28 Mar

Kwesi Kankam

Kwesi Kankam is an eclectic musician. Born in Anchorage, Alaska, Kankam (who is of Ghanaian descent) moved to Toledo, Ohio where he was raised. Kankam received a football scholarship to Lehigh University, but his love of music eventually got behind the tacklers and sacked him (hooray for awful football analogies!)

I mention Kankam’s interesting past because his music reflects it. Kankam’s diverse soul-influenced folk encompasses multifarious simplicity. Before you call me out on this contradictory juxtaposition of words, let me explain.

Kankam’s music features everything from orchestral strings to Africana beats to horns, but, ultimately, when stripped down to its bare roots, the music is simple and calm like a relaxed pair of jeans. It is Kankam’s airy, light-hearted croon and an acoustic guitar.

Ultimately, no matter how much music you add to the background, the artist must be a proficient singer and there needs to be an instrument like a guitar or a piano played well. Kankam excels at both.

“Brunettes,” my favorite track off of Kankam’s debut EP, Ran Away From Me, which was released in March of last year, begins with Kankam and his acoustic guitar – quickly drums and keys are added. Kankam’s voice is a sip of hot cocoa in a cozy coffee shop. His smooth croon is one part Danny O’Donoghue, one part Ben Harper or Joe Pisapia. The vocal inflections are skillful, and his layered melodies are wonderful. The repeated riff stays true to the piece as Kankam manipulates the sound with tiny electric guitar segments and creative keys. Tap your feet. Sip your cocoa. The song makes you as comfortable as reclining in a La-Z-Boy.

“Long Days, Short Nights” features eclectic rhythms and instrumentation (almost like a Dave Matthews song) that create a worldly atmosphere. Think rooty folk mixed with modern Indie folk – sort of like Rusted Root mixed with Calexico. The mixture is euphonious and Kankam’s voice fits the music to perfection. Best of all, despite that the song is almost 5:30, I never felt bored. The music flows like water in a small creek, and, like “Brunettes” it is infectious and easy.

Keep up with Kwesi Kankam: Website, Facebook, Twitter

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One Response to “The Soulful Sounds of Kwesi Kankam”

  1. Paulie Knakk March 28, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

    MY MAN! Great article about a great dude.

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