We were never meant to hear it. It was simply a romantic birthday gift to his wife. But when she heard it, she urged him to release it. It was too good not to be shared.
And that is how we got to hear the Love Sessions EP by Noel Nderitu.
We cannot put him in a gospel box - you see what that did to Willy Paul. This alternative Kenyan musician fuses R&B, soul and gospel to create the Noel Nderitu sound. With two albums to his name, he won best R&B act at Cafe Ngoma Awards 2017. He later bagged the bronze medal at the Global Music Awards in 2018 for his song “Perfect” .
In that same year, he also released his first collaborative project with his soul brother Rigga. Undugu EP is a collection of 5 relatable tracks about brotherhood and what it’s like to be a man. With singles like Imma Do Me and Aje Aje.
But it’s the ladies who love him most. How can they not when the man has a golden voice, perfect beard and African smile. If he was not Christian, Lord knows what sexy R&B hits he would be making.
Well, he finally gave us a taste of his romantic side with his latest EP. Released on 4th March 2019, Noel is proving consistent in releasing projects as an example to live alternative Kenyan musicians who perform more than they record.
The Love Sessions EP comes with two beautiful features - the talented R&B songstresses Lisa Oduor-Noah and Chemutai Sage. It is the collaboration with the former that has already grabbed hearts all over the Internet.
Your Name is a conversation between two lovestruck strangers who just wanna know each other’s names. It’s almost everyone’s favourite (including Noel Nderitu) and is regularly played on Patricia Kihoro’s radio show Afrocentral. You could say it has officially entered the classic love duets playlist alongside Chemistry by Kenyan musicians Tetu Shani and Mayonde.
Am I the only one who wants to see an official video?
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The first track Upendo is a sweet declaration of love from the newly wedded musician to his wife. "Mtandao umepotea, na ndani ya box ndio nimeingia," Noel croons in the smooth chorus.
But the song that stands out is Blame. Yes, the title is slightly misleading - it’s not what you think. It drops like a bomb with a heavy trap beat and future R&B vibe you can’t help but bounce to. Unlike the other self-produced tracks, this one was produced by his ndugu Riggaman.
Noel also plays around with autotune, though we all know he doesn’t need it.
Just like in the Undugu EP, we are treated to one special live song. Enter Unspoken - because sometimes you’d rather hold your tongue than break your lover with your words. Noel’s raw vocal talent is undeniable and all the recorded instruments come alive.
It almost makes you want to experience the whole Love Sessions EP live.
Each piece is a perfect blend of live instrumentation, harmonies and post-production. Alongside an acoustic guitar, the bass is bold and beautiful in Over You. Noel looks back at the one he loved before and wishes her the best - because men are (not) trash.
In the closing track, he weaves between English and Swahili lyrics, as the title suggests. Tusichoke is the final collaboration where Sage’s and Noel’s harmonious voices blend like white coffee. They go back and forth, asking each other not to give up: Let’s give our relationship one more try.
I stan for this.
Do not judge this book of music by the simple unassuming artwork by Imor P3SA. Love Sessions is a solid R&B project in terms of production and lyrics. I first streamed the Kenyan EP on YouTube then bought it during Speakerbox at the K1 Klubhouse after his intimate acoustic show.
The next evening, I played the new CD in my home theatre. The rain poured outside relentlessly because winter is here. Looking outside the window, I felt like an R&B queen about to drop her next project.
Love Sessions EP feels like the perfect gift to dedicate to your lover, or to yourself in this cold season. You can get it digitally on iTunes or Mookh. Because we all know you support the artist more by buying their music rather than streaming.
In the meantime, Noel Nderitu continues to sing his worship songs with his heavenly voice. But we have to thank his wife for this special gift.