A testament to the enduring beauty of femme energy…

ClashMusic

25 · 04 · 2022

‘THE POWER IN US’ is a bold exploration of various sociopolitical themes weighing heavily on many people’s minds. Poppy Ajudha confronts these issues head on, packing everything swimming around her head into just over 30 minutes. Poppy’s soulful, jazz infused grooves set the scene for her debut album and manifesto. From the outset ‘WHOSE FUTURE? OUR FUTURE!’ launches into chants, distorted guitars, sirens and snippets of speeches before concluding in words from ‘Ella’s Song’: “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes”.

‘PLAYGOD’ is Poppy’s pro-choice anthem, one that is equally compassionate and ferocious in its approach, and further reflected in the intertwining of soulful verses and nu metal choruses. ‘HOLIDAY FROM REALITY’ is a sentiment held by many, told through catchy melodies and funky, upbeat production. Ajudha often cites her mother as a source of inspiration, making ‘MOTHERS SISTERS GIRLFRIENDS’ a conflicted track on the record. Poppy starts by asking for forgiveness from her mother for not wanting the same life, as she questions her role as a womxn in society – something that plagues many of us and continues to be a struggle, particularly in relation to the pressure placed upon womxn to conform to gender norms and traditional notions of womanhood.

With ‘DEMONS’, things take a solemn turn as Ajudha feels the weight of the world. She reveals the inner turmoil she experiences when trying to simultaneously exist in society and fight its ills. The sorrow and defeat felt in her vocal performance makes it an even more emotionally charged listen. This continues through the interlude to ‘FALL TOGETHER’. Following this, things start to feel like you’re listening on autopilot. Against the backdrop of hypnotic beats and haunting sounds, the production slightly supersedes the melodies of the remaining songs. As the production takes over, it takes interesting twists and turns with darker undertones. ‘THE POWER IN US’ starts off strong and slightly dissipates toward the end in terms of song structure, but it maintains a significant and resilient message throughout.

Ajudha effectively establishes her statement without coming off preachy and self-righteous. It is as much a personal reflection of her relationship with these issues, as it is a testimony of society’s compliance in them. It is not light listening, but Poppy makes it clear that this is not her intention with this record. Ajudha approaches each topic in a thoughtful and emotionally intelligent manner. While it may air on the side of wokeness for some, it does not feel performative and shallow like many other records that try to address similar themes. It is evident that Ajudha did her due diligence and that she is genuine in her concern, rather than it just being a ploy for popularity and relevance. It is an album of empowerment, empathy, activism and forgiveness. ‘THE POWER IN US’ is a love letter and mission statement to the womxn who are burdened by these issues. Poppy Ajudha’s debut is a promising first chapter in an inspiring and hopefully enduring story.

8/10

Words: Yasmin Cowan

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