On Boy Alone, Omah Lay Separates Himself From his Peers. [Album Review]
When Omah Lay appeared on our radar in 2020 with his debut EP Get Layd, he came armed with the strength of undeniable talent and novelty, this also coincided with the music industry’s shift to mid-tempo-paced songs, a shift in paradigm his projects will later help solidify.
Omah Lay will follow Get Layd with What Have We Done , an equally commercially successful and critically acclaimed EP later in 2020.
On his first two EPs and subsequent musical appearances, Omah lay played wholly to his strength, which was his mastery of melodies and his uncanny ability to make anything, even random names sound good in songs (a la Ngozi Chimamanda in Ajebo Hustler’s Pronto).
Omah Lay’s 2020 was very reminiscent of Stephen Curry’s 2015 -2016 NBA regular season, where in both cases their talent caught the world by surprise and for Omah Lay much like Curry everything seemed to be hitting the net.
In the most improbable year to shoot into superstardom, mainly due to the pandemic and also because the contemporary big five (Wizkid, Davido, Burna Boy, Olamide, Tiwa Savage) dropped critically and commercially successful albums, Omah Lay managed to release two EPs that were in conversations for projects of the year.
He was here to chill with the big boys.
Omah Lay would continue to flex his Midas touch in early 2021, from elevating Gyakie’s forever to releasing his smash hit Understand, however, things would begin to stagnate from here.
While 2020 was the year of heavyweights and elder statesmen, 2021 presented new and upcoming artistes the opportunity to take over the reins of the industry.
When veterans took off 2021 to work songs off their last projects ( a la essence by Wizkid) or were under international label directives to pace the release of their next projects, musical acts such as Ladipoe, Buju, Lojay, Ayra Starr, Ruger, Tems, made lofty strides through their projects, hit singles and international acclaim.
Amid these outbursts of talent, Omah Lay dropped Free my Mind to lukewarm reception; a year later he would release Attention with Justin Bieber, and the song would fail to make the impact intended for it locally or internationally.
Free My Mind and Attention were not necessarily bad songs, however, coming off his two projects the benchmark for Omah Lay had been set very high and his newfound competition was releasing equally compelling or even better records.
Two years after, the release of his debut EP, it was time for Omah Lay to remind a slowly apathetic audience why they fell in love with him at first sight. This time around he would not be armed with the advantage of novelty.
Omah Lay is not the most versatile of artistes like the Burna Boys and Remas of this world, instead, he plays to his strengths and the music audience knows what to expect from him. It’s the same way defenders already anticipate a three-pointer from Curry, the moment he steps into the half-court. It is for Omah Lay like Curry to make the shot regardless.
Boy Alone adopts a personal approach from start to finish, something most of his peers have not been able to successfully execute on their projects. This may be due to their relatively young age and limited life experiences or skepticism that their music audience may not be receptive to such depth.
In the past with songs like Godly, Omah Lay has displayed his ability to go personal, but this has always taken the backseat to the general musicality of the record. Majority of his listeners go away from such songs enjoying the melodies while having the intended meaning get lost on them, but on Boy Alone he puts his personal life clearly and explicitly on the forefront.
With I’m a mess, Omah Lay leads us through the natural travails of imposter syndrome, self-doubt, and self-medication that typically accompanies the type of overwhelming success he has experienced early in his career.
On Temptations, we see the cost of success, which entails the almost inevitable deterioration of relationships with family, close friends, and God, although the track ends with Omah Lay acknowledging that while he is alone his foundational support system still lurks around to help, especially God, a sentiment he will reiterate in Safe Haven.
Understand, How to Luv and Attention reflects the travails of every young man in Omah Lay’s generation. The battles with unreciprocated affections, infidelity from significant others, and his willingness to try to make love work.
This album is not all gloom however, on Bend you and Woman Omah Lay serenades his muse with flirtatious lyrics while highlighting his sexual prowess. Bend you is especially destined for suggestive and raunchy TikTok adaptations.
Boy Alone does not see Omah Lay find a solution to his travails, in fact on the album’s closing track we still see the songster crave for attention and companionship, but on the track I, Omah Lay comes to the realization that only he alone can affirm himself to rise above his circumstances, giving credence to his album title.
So far 2022 has failed to replicate the quality and excellence of the releases of the two years preceding it. The year has seen a lot of good but not exceptional mainstream releases. This has helped Boy Alone stand apart from its peers.
With Boy Alone, Omah Lay has not only beaten the “falling off” allegations he has once again separated himself from his peers. The kind of loneliness (at the top) he would want.
If the year ends today, like Steph Curry in 2016, Boy Alone will be the Unanimous MVP.