After a couple of agenda-setting chords, Iwe opens with a driving drumbeat topped by Shingai Shoniwa's smouldering vocals. As the music's urgency builds, Shingai's vocal delivery stays audibly restrained. At the chorus, the guitar, drums and vocals all erupt into an all-out rock frenzy. As the guitar fades into the second verse, Shingai slides back into tempered mode.
Throughout the second verse she slips effortlessly between menacing temperament and unrestrained screaming, at times dwarfing the instrumentation (which gains a couple of flourishes over the first verse), at times barely discernible above it. All the while the music builds in intensity, so that by the time the second chorus comes around, no change of volume or pace is needed going into it.
When the chorus reaches its natural conclusion, the music recedes to mellow chords that by now sound positively quiet. Naturally, Shingai's vocals catch up instantly. Melodiously, over a surprising chord progression, she repeats – she chants – “Iwe”. The rhythm guitar returns and, with the vocals, builds tension to a crescendo. After exhausting one last breath, Shingai leaves a classic rock guitar solo to conclude the song.
You could not want for a stronger vocal performance, nor better-suited accompaniment.
And no, I've no idea what “Iwe” means. If you download one track this week, make it Iwe. Stay tuned.