If Adele and John Legend had a voice baby, it would be Tafari Anthony. The young Canadian singer has taken some baby steps toward success in the last year as a finalist for Canada’s esteemed Walk of Fame Emerging Artist mentorship program, making it to the top 25 of CBC Searchlight, and putting out a soulful, jazzy EP, Die for You, this past June.
The EP is “one part rock anthem, one part break-up song, and one part pop hook,” according to Anthony’s Facebook page. As compelling as that sounds, and as talented as Anthony is, he’s trying to do too much.
The first track, “See Through Me” starts off with and holds an energetic beat, but Anthony's voice doesn't come in as strong as it should and is drowned out by the instrumentals. Make no mistake, Anthony has nothing to hide. The way he holds a note is incredible. He can hit highs and lows and convey emotion at an extraordinary level, but masking his voice makes the listener work to really pay attention.
Anthony’s performances, like at Searchlight in April, prove that he’s more than worth paying attention to when his voice is on the forefront. He’s got a rich, almost Groban-esque quality that grabs you by the ears. But underneath the layers of beats and less-than-subtle genre switches in Die for You, he comes off as shy at times.
The fourth track, “Fuck” doesn’t hold its own as a provocative song to match its title. Lines that are supposed to be shocking like “Take her ass out to dinner, baby,” “You better look in my eyes next time you touch me” and “You ain't nothing more than sex to me” don’t punch as hard as they should. These are words that are supposed to take listeners aback, but Anthony sings them like a lullaby. The song starts off as sexy, reminiscent of BJ the Chicago Kid, with a chorus of “ooohs” behind Anthony’s slow singing, but after about a minute the track switches to rock. Once again, Anthony’s voice is buried behind instrumentals until he switches back to the slow, jazzy singing. Listeners get to focus on just Anthony and the horn playing in only the last 30 seconds.
Anthony’s confident energy transfers into the title track, where his voice finally feels like it comes first
Anthony’s confident energy transfers into the title track, where his voice finally feels like it comes first, but the band also seems to go all in and rock out. This feels smoother and more successful than “Fuck.” Maybe it’s the lyrical change, but Anthony seems to really believe in this one.
“Maybe When We Get Older” is the track that should make Anthony a star. His singing is at its sweetest and saddest for such an elegant song. It’s the most evident of his musical mother, Adele. If Anthony slowed down and made another EP of “Maybe When We Get Older” type songs, he could surely sell out stages at Adele’s rate.
Die for You isn’t perfect, but by no means is it a bad EP. It's snappy, soulful, and most importantly, shows the crazy amount of potential Anthony has. It just takes a listen or two to adjust, enjoy and stop wanting more. Anthony has a long and surely bright future ahead of him to deliver.