Small Small

04/08/2022Ghana's Isaac Birituro And The Rail Abandon Return To Wah Wah 45s With Album Number Two

Almost exactly three years ago, we did a short write-up on "Kalba", the debut collaborative album by Ghanaian xylophone master Isaac Birituro and British singer/songwriter/producer Sonny Johns, and were thus pleasantly surprised to hear about their recent return to London-based imprint Wah Wah 45s for album number two. "Small Small" is the name of their inspirational sophomore effort, which sees them continue their pursuit to "hear the usual done unusually" alongside an able and dynamic lineup of international live musicians, aka The Rail Abandon, that changes according to the music.

"Small Small" is a typical Ghanaian saying used to mean 'bit by bit,' 'one step at a time' or 'slow and steady,' a phrase Sonny Johns first encountered on his initial trip to Ghana in 2016 and that seems to have been the modus operandi of this impressive sequel. Riding the buzz of their successful debut, the foundation of the album was recorded over the course of three days while touring Germany in October 2019, shortly before the global pandemic hit. Due to the ensuing lockdown measures and adding to the challenge of collaborating across continents, the group was forced to continue working on the album separately in Ghana and the UK, each adding their own musicians to the recording and working together remotely via the internet. It is fair to say then, that this album came together piece by piece, or simply 'small small.'

"The album is about loss, frustration and struggle, but it’s also about the light at the end of the tunnel; about overcoming difficulties to find a brighter future and no matter what separates us, whether that be language, culture, continents or borders, when we listen to each other and learn from each other, there’s really not much that separates us. So from everyone involved, here’s to a brighter future," says Sonny Johns. Reflecting this is the album's resplendent wall of sound, hopeful, upbeat, pensive, yet never intrusive. It may help to consider that this album is very much a by-product of these uncertain times, while all those involved in the making witnessed both an unforeseen pandemic, the rise of the BLM movement and the death of drummer extraordinaire Tony Allen – and yet, despite all the adversity, this album oozes creativity, positivity and joie de vivre. 

Like its predecessor, "Small Small" is composed of ten tracks and includes special guest appearances by Ghanaian powerhouse vocalist Wiyaala, UK-based afrobeat ambassador Dele Sosimi, Queen Ayesha and South African singer Nosihe. You can now stream/buy the full album below. Also, catch Isaac Birituro and The Rail Abandon live on tour in Germany this September on the following dates. Proceeds will be donated to social projects in Ghana:

Sept. 3   Haren, Hotel Altenberge
Sept. 4   Bremen, Focke Museum
Sept. 6   Zülpich, Forum
Sept. 8   Darmstadt, Osthang
Sept. 10  München, Import Export
Sept. 11   Berlin, Klunkerkranich
Sept. 13   Hamburg, Knust
Sept. 15   Mannheim, Alte Feuerwache
Sept. 16   Offenbach, Hafen 2

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom