A Love Letter To Midnight Train

The best love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds.
Nicholas Sparks

That quote by Mr. Sparks best sums up my love for the Midnight Train album by Sauti Sol because, to put it mildly, I am so soo sooo in love with that album aki. It has awakened my soul, made me reach for more, planted a fire in my heart and brought peace to my mind. For real.

I have played Midnight Train from start to end an INSANE number of times ever since I first heard it during the YouTube album launch on August 22nd, aka my two year blogiversary 🙂

Enyewe, Sauti Sol is THAT BAND and Midnight Train is THAT ALBUM!! It may be quite premature to say this, since there is obviously a lot more greatness to come from Sauti Sol, but Midnight Train could very easily be their Magnum Opus. In fact, I really hope it gets nominated for and wins a Grammy because it is just so soo sooo good!!! I know the Grammys has lost its stature and esteem over the years, especially for black people and other people of colour, but goddammit Sauti Sol deserve to win at least one Grammy in their lifetime because those four Kenyan gentlemen are the very picture of excellence.

I will be the first to admit that I am not really an “album person.” I cannot tell you why but up until a few years ago I had only listened to a handful of albums from start to end. In fact the first album I remember listening to in its entirety is Beyoncé’s eponymous BEYONCÉ. That album should have won Album of the Year at the 2015 Grammys and five years later I am still butthurt about it, but let me not get into that grievance now because today’s post is neither the time nor the place to vent about BEYONCÉ.

As I was saying, unless it’s Bey, Rih, TayTay, Ari, Adele, Ed Sheeran or Sam Smith, I rarely go out of my way to listen to an entire album which explains why I did not listen to Midnight Train until the YouTube album launch. My boyfriend likes to remind me all the time that he is the one who put me onto the album 😐 I eventually got around to it during the YouTube launch and my life has never been the same since because Midnight Train is easily my favourite album of 2020.

Quick aside: my favourite artist of all time is Taylor Swift and my favourite album of all time is reputation, but for the last two years Tay has released an album that did not end up being my favourite one of the year on account of a Kenyan album. Last year she released Lover which I loved, but my favourite album of 2019 was Made in the Streets by H_art The Band. In fact, now that we are here can we just talk about Issa Vibe by H_art The Band ft. Sauti Sol because that bop was an absolute highlight of the album. I have always wanted to vibe to it at a house party with my man 😍 because Issa Vibe frfr so maybe it will finally happen next year. Also, just imagine how FUEGO that music video would be!!

But, I digress. This year Taylor “surprise-released” folklore, her eighth studio album, on the second day of Leo season but so far my favourite album of 2020 is Midnight Train. I do not skip a single song on the album and some like Insecure, Nenda Lote, Suzanna and Disco Matanga I play over and over again.

As mentioned I listened to Midnight Train for the first time during the YouTube album launch and I “watched” the performance with my boyfriend who was home visiting his family that day. My boyfriend knows I love me some Sauti Sol so it was very sweet of him to catch the album launch as well so we could “watch it together” even if he was home with his family at the time.

I enjoyed the album launch immensely even though I only knew two or three songs beforehand, so I cannot help but wonder how much more I would have enjoyed it had I listened to the album prior. So Sauti Sol please consider this my official petition to have the album launch available for repeat viewing on YouTube. That way those of us who were late to the party can enjoy the live performances with as much gusto as those who knew all the songs beforehand. Thanks and regards 🙂

Without further ado:

  1. Intro

“Do what makes you happy” is what I like to sing to my boyfriend when he wants to do something that he knows might annoy me but still asks for my opinion/permission.

Lol. So instead of saying “okay have fun” I like to sing to him “do what makes you happy” instead. Lol.

All jokes aside, I really like this song and think it sets the tone well for what to expect from the album i.e. tons of positivity, fun, insight and good vibes.

2. Midnight Train

“Steady rocking on the midnight train.”

I love it!! This is one of those songs that takes root in your head and refuses to leave because of how catchy the chorus is.

3. Insecure

The way Bien sings “baby you’re so insecure” in the chorus after his verse is what made me fall in love with this one. It just absolutely hits the spot!

When Savara sings “I’m so insecure mi husomanga message ukiniachia phone” it really brings to mind those tweets of “only go through your boyfriend’s phone if you want to lose weight.” Lol!

One of my favourite parts of this song is Savara’s voice and drumming in the pre-chorus of his verse. It may be on the quiet side but there is so much strength and power in it. The drums add a lovely touch and really bring out the beauty of his verse for me.

4. Feel My Love

She says she’s okay I don’t believe her
There’s just something ’bout the way
She turned her back on me

First of all, what is it with women replying “nothing” when their significant others ask what is wrong yet clearly there is something wrong. My boyfriend can attest AF because he must ask me like a dozen times what is wrong before I fess up. Lol.

And even though we fight all night and day
I know sometimes in love there can be pain

That is me and my boyfriend. Lol. I gave a teeny tiny glimpse into our love story in last week’s post and I shared that even if our love story is beautiful, our relationship is not perfect. We fight every two to three days (lol, but also fr) but we fight well and that is important to me because I have been in relationships before where we did not fight well. In love there can indeed be pain but it is important to always remember that you are on the same team despite the conflict at hand, and to look for solutions to whatever is causing conflict rather than just fighting for fighting.

Usiponipenda ntapendwa na nani
Nitakua mgeni wa nani
Ukiwa mbali nami nabaki taabani
Mbona nahisi kisirani yawa
Haina maana mi na wewe kuzozana
Mbona tunasimangana
Hatuwezi semezana my love

The first time I really paid attention to those lyrics was not too long ago when Edith Kimani posted an Instagram story of her singing it at the gym with Savara. At first I could not place which song they were singing but I eventually figured out it is Feel My Love. On that note we have to talk about how Sav (yes I call him that 🙂 ) has served major lyric game in this album!!! His lyrical prowess in this album is unmatched mpaka I want to improve my Swahili so I can sing along to Sav’s parts easily and fluently.

My Swahili is not the best, which is rather ironic because for the first three years of my life I could not speak any language other than Swahili. I was born in Nairobi West and spent the first three years of my life there and in that time I could only speak Swahili. And then I went to a bougie academy in Karen for primary school and my Swahili just, well:

One of my earliest memories is of my first day of school. I spent the whole day crying because I just wanted my mum and I remember my classmates trying to console me/ask me what was wrong but I did not understand English at all and it just made me cry even harder. Lol.

But, I digress.

5. Brighter Days feat. Soweto Gospel Choir

This was an excellent choice for the lead single of the album because it is extremely inspirational. I have seen it on many Twitter lists of inspirational music to start your day with and I could not agree more.

6. Nenda Lote

OMG where do I even start with this one!?!

About two weeks before the album launch Shiko Nguru put up this tweet:

But I did not resonate with it because I had only listened to the song once or twice but now all I can is same Shiko. Same. Except for that Kilifi bit. Lol.

Savara! Savara!! Savara!!!! Aki his lyrics in this one absolutely make me feel like this:

Chim and Bien’s parts are also sooo good. I really catch a feeling when Chimano sings:

Ukatuma lawyer wako aje anisomee
Ukatuma lawyer wako aje anisomee
Kuwa watoto ulonizalia eeh
Kuwa watoto ulonizalia eeh
Sitawaona tena

And when Bien sings “ukatuma pastor wako aje anikemee, ukatuma pastor wako aje anikemee mama” I feel that deep in my chest aki.

Also, I am so glad to have learnt the word mitandaoni. Mitandaoni, together with anikemee, is one of my boyfriend’s favourite bits of the song actually 🙂

7. Suzanna

This song makes me really really really happy. I listen to it and feel pure, unadulterated JOY! Sav’s verse in this song is another reason I want to improve my Swahili so I can sing along to it easily and fluently.

Mwananmke tabia
Shepu ni majaliwa
Ila wengi walinyimwa tabia
Shepu kabarikiwa
Mwanaume hisia
Pesa ni majaliwa
Ila wengi walinyimwa hisia
Na pesa kabarikiwa

Also, the background details Sav is serving in the chorus after his verse…

I read somewhere that Sav makes a point to include such tiny details and so I started paying more attention to them. Now I am aware of and in love with those tiny details that I consider classic Savara, in the background of very many Sauti Sol songs.

8. Set Me Free

This one is such a joy to listen to because you can tell they had so much fun recording it.

9. My Everything feat. India Arie

My favourite thing about this song is the Luhya bits in the chorus. Ever since they came out with Lazizi Sauti Sol have owned their Luhyaness and as a result they make me so proud to be Luhya as well. Unfortunately I do not speak the language so I would ask my mum to translate the Luhya bits for me and now that she is no longer alive to do so, I really think of and miss my mum when I listen to the Luhya bits in Sauti Sol songs.

10. Wake Up feat. Mortimer

“Are you willing, are you ready? Willing are you readddddyyyyy.”

What a fun song to sing and dance to! Am I right or am I right!?

11. Sober

What a beautifully sung, beautifully written song. Enyewe you cannot help but feel this one because the way it is sung and written is just sooo emotive! To anyone reading this who is struggling with alcohol addiction, I am sending you so much strength, love and light! You gat this! I promise!

12. Rhumba Japani feat. Kaskazini, Bensoul, Nviiri, Xenia Manasseh, Okello Max & Nairobi Horns

This song is VERY Bensoul. It has his vibe kabisaaaaa and I would not be surprised to learn he had a hand in a lot of how the song is written and sounds like.

Speaking of stunning, how STUNNING did she look at the album launch!? Sis bodied the fuck out of that look!! Yo!!

The Luo is verse one of my favourite parts of the song because the way it is sung makes the language sound sooo exquisite! Though it also makes me think of some tweet I saw about how the Luo language sounds so angelic but the men are straight from the devil himself. Lol.

13. Disco Matanga (Yambakhana) feat. Sho Madjozi & Black Motion

A YouTube comment on this song:

It’s me. I’m Luhyas. Lol. For real though.

This song REALLY makes me think about my mum because she would have loved the fuck out of it and we would have had the best time dancing to it so listening to it always makes me happy-sad. It was in Queen Sono as well but I only knew about that after the fact. Aki it would have been such a trip to listen to it during the episode because this song, to quote my fave Savara, ni vaibuuuuuuu!!!

Shida mimi na kachali kangu hatusomagi pamoja
Itabidi disco mi nifike nikihitaji kumuona
Utanikosa shuleni lakini kwa vitabu utanisoma
Hizi ngori mnashinda mkileta leo mtakoma

Also, looooooooooooove that bit from Sho!

This post was a shitload of fun to write and I hope you have enjoyed reading it. I still have sooo much to say about Sauti Sol so I will definitely put up another post about them that does not focus exclusively on Midnight Train. On that note, on a scale of 1 – 10 how in love with Midnight Train are you? What are your favourite songs on the album? Do let me know as I am willing and ready (ha!) to continue this conversation in the comment section. And to anyone reading this who is yet to listen to Midnight Train, I got one question for you: WYD? Click the link below to get on it quick, fast and in a hurry because damn this album ni vaibuuuuuuu!!!

4 thoughts on “A Love Letter To Midnight Train

  1. I have always been a Sauti Sol Stan and I listened to the album the night it dropped,I even set an alarm just in case I forgot, hata I don’t have the word to describe how I was feeling during the launch😪*chef’s kiss*
    I would give the album a solid 10,definitely my Favorite album of 2020🥰there was no bad song, just vibesss. My favorite song from the album is Nenda Lote☺️ To that list of ugly criers mark me present😂 I also really love Sober.
    If you haven’t listened to that album,bruh what are you actually doing?😕
    Ni vaaaaiibuuuuuu👌🏽👌🏽

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 1) Sauti Sol Stan. I love the alliteration there 🤩
      2) lol at setting an alarm so you don’t forget but I love that too. Sooo much!! Enyewe you are a STAN!!!
      3) it’s funny how you say chef’s kiss because I was about to use a GIF I saved as “chef’s kiss” in the post but changed my mind at the last minute. Because yes, chef’s kiss really does come to mind when describing the album
      4) it’s incredible how there is no bad song at all!!! I skip nothing! Love it!!
      5) I can’t pick just 1 fave but my top 3 would be Nenda Lote, Insecure and Disco Matanga. But I also looooove Suzanna. It makes me so happy. And of late I’ve really fallen in love with Rhumba Japani

      Liked by 1 person

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