Album Reviews

Ugcobo By Nomfundo Moh: A Classic Sonic Collection

The distant African ululations, traditional shakers, and Big Zulu's passionate singing collide to proudly represent the Mzansi culture. 

Ugcobo album review Nomfundo Moh
Nomfundo Moh [Twitter/@Mthiya_sa]

Before the Ugcobo album review, in 2022, Nomfundo Moh signed a life-changing deal with Universal Music Publishing. The contractual agreement gave birth to her debut full-length project,  ‘Amagama’. 

Her remarkable exploits with the 2021 single, ‘Lilizela’ made this move a no-brainer for Universal Music Group. The song was highly successful In South Africa and it Indefinitely got the right heads bobbing enough to incite the record deal.

Digressing, Nomfundo wears a petite build that might convey her whole outlook as unimposing, or less threatening, but as soon as she opens her mouth to sing, her powerful voice creates an instant feeling, a feeling borne out of Indigenous originality which ultimately showcases her unapologetic love for culture and tradition.

All the signs are there; it’s in her constant use of Zulu tongue clicks while singing and her heavy usage of the local language that makes her a unique musical export which explains the UMG deal. 

‘Amagama’ was a brilliant debut and it announced Nomfundo in her own right. However, it lacked some fundamental nuances one of which was a listening ear to the foreign market. 

Most of the songs on Amagama were heavily spoken In vernacular languages which might seem off-putting for most foreign listeners, even if the music was sweet- which it was, but was it sweet enough to break the language barrier or the lack of branding thereof?

I am taking a wild guess that these discussions were brought up at one of the many UMG music executive board meetings when the prospects of a new album for Nomfundo Moh came up since the sonic contrasts between her debut and the sophomore are obvious- It could as well have been solely Nomfundo’s idea too.

On ‘Ugcobo’, (although she still leans on to heavy indigenous singing) the sound is sonically more relatable to a foreign audience. 

For instance, it heavily features soulful rhythm and blues instrumentals, with other genres like Jazz (Noyana),  Afro-pop (Umncele), and Hip-hop (Muntu Wasemzini).

On ‘Uthando Lunye’ Nomfundo’s amazing ability to convey emotions in a song is superlative here. She makes you feel what she is feeling at that moment, even if you don’t understand a phrase or syllable being sung. 

In the same light, kudos to the music producers, Edward Eddie Khumalo and Naxon Cross (the latter is heavily involved in the project).

She delves into an emotive rhythm and blues vibe with the featured act, Afrotraction on ‘Umjolo O Healthy’. Both singers are belting passionately about Love on this record.

American 80’s R&b synths and percussion reign supreme on Isthombe. She brings her African spice to a beat that sounds like a 1980 American movie soundtrack. At least she is audacious, you have to give her that.

Nanini sounds like gospel music, I might be wrong, but that is the vibe I get in this record. Maybe it’s just the unfiltered soul in Moh’s voice, but I love it! The world needs elevating music.

Zulu culture shines bright on ‘Amalobolo’. The distant African ululations, traditional shakers, and Big Zulu’s passionate singing collide to proudly represent the Mzansi culture. 

Ndaba Zabantu is characterized by soft piano melodies, mid-tempo drum kits, and melodic adlibs. She takes a retrospective look into how far she has come in her career while maintaining a humbling gratitude.

The Genius of Naxion Cross spreads through the project. The South African music producer is consequential to the brilliance of this album. He was involved in every song on the album. Naxion Cross is the unsung hero of this beautiful sonic story. The chemistry shared between himself and Nomfundo Moh has made this project a classic sonic collection.

The only downside to ‘Ugcobo’ is Nomfundo’s lack of language flexibility on the project. This could come in handy in attracting a larger audience to her amazing craft- unless she fails to see herself in global dominance conversations. 

Nomfundo Moh Ugcobo album review
Review Overview

In summary: Drawing excerpts from 'Ugcobo', Nomfundo Moh's voice carries the timbre of a vintage singer- with a sweet and angelic octave. Surprisingly, she is only twenty-three years of age but possesses a soulful depth of a Brenda Fassie.

  • Songwriting9
  • Production10
  • Sequencing8
  • Enjoyability7
  • Delivery8

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