(Langa) Mavuso

If there is one person who is able to narrate the intricacies of love authentically, it’s Langa Mavuso. From the days of his hit single Sunday Blues, it was evident that the singer-songwriter would be a force to be reckoned with in the rhythm and blues landscape. With his eponymously titled debut album he showcases not only his innate musicality but also his world-class craftsmanship.

Love is a constant theme throughout Langa’s discography. Through his craft he invites us into his heartbreak so we may feel safe to confront our own. His story is relatable because we too are Searching for love. Love is the one thing we desire but often blunder because of its delicacy and our misunderstanding of what it is and what is not. Through the harmonious melodies and evocative lyrics of this album, we endeavour to find meaning in calamity, heartbreak, and loss from the evergreen lessons of the heart.

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Lao Tzu once said that being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. Perhaps that courage is what one needs to walk away when the love isn’t working anymore, because the reality is that a successful relationship is not built on love alone. This is the perspective that the kings of falsetto offer in the heartfelt ballad, Intliziyo. Along with multitalented musician, Lloyiso, the singer suggests that loving can be synonymous with leaving. Chances are, very few of us can confess to being incapable of nurturing the heart of our significant other. Through the song, the duo offers a breakup letter that has more substance than the classical “it’s not you, it’s me”. The beauty of music is that it allows us to say things we would probably leave unsaid or be too uncomfortable to say. To admit that you are no longer in a position to nurture and instead of causing harm, you choose to part, is a form of love. After all, substitution is not a phenomenon solely reserved for sports and mathematical equations.

The music video throws a spanner in the works, in that it offers a different perspective of the lyrics. At this point, it should be noted that a music video can be instrumental in how you connect with a song, particularly an emotive song. Listening to a song is a lot like reading a book, your imagination can run wild because you have room to interpret the song however you like. You then expect the music video to pan out in one way or another based on your mental blueprint. Although the creative direction of this particular music video took a different route to what many of us would have expected, given the lyrical content, it is a spectacular narrative music video.

There comes a time in a relationship where the penny drops and one realizes that there is no redeeming the relationship and yet continue like it’s all sunshine and roses. Maybe it’s due to denial or the regret of what seems to be wasted moments and so we Pretend to be in good standing. In the music video Langa and Aimee George have their backs to each other, so even though they are so close to each other in distance, they can’t see each other. Given the lyrics of the song, their stance is deliberate. It shows how close proximity does not equate intimacy.

To fully heal from any experience, one needs to accept what was as it was. The hardest part is usually accepting your part in the breakdown, particularly if you feel wronged. But it’s only through acceptance that you can start to heal. Healing starts by releasing yourself from the chains of the past so you can continue into the future with pure intentions. Just like how the spring rains will wash away the traces of winter and usher in new life, may those rains also symbolize the birth of a new version of yourself. May the rains wash you clean of yesterday.

Apart from his rich vocal range that lands softly in your heart; the musicality portrayed in Langa’s craft is exceptional. He is able to marry the melody to the lyrics in a manner that brings prominence to his storytelling. Similar to how body language enhances speech. In Heartstrings from his debut EP, Liminal Sketches, the guitar intro gives the analogy of heartstrings being pulled which is fitting for a love song. Similarly, the violin outro in Mvula gives the same kind of chills you would get from cold water running down your back; while giving the soothing sensation of hearing the rain fall.

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Langa collaborates with his good friends Zoe Modiga and Manana to deliver some much needed social commentary in the song I Wish. The harsh reality is that there is no rescue team coming to save us from ourselves. To a great degree we share the same ideology on how life should be. We want to be bound together by cord of love and acceptance; which is not a farfetched idea but we have got to work at it. To be frank, it’s not as if we had no idea that we have to work at being a better people, we just needed this song to get us moving.

If there is one song on this album that can melt the toughest hearts, it’s Spirit. If you have ever been in a war room with Spirit then you will feel this song a little deeper. In this song, Langa offers a prayer of absolute surrender, inviting Spirit to commune and reveal truth to him. When you have gone through traumatic experiences, it is easy to start seeing everything, including yourself, through the lens of that experience. It is at this point that you need Creator to come with the manual and remind you of who and whose you are. Through this song Langa Mavuso creates a space through the invocation of Spirit for healing and restoration.

Over the past two years and even beyond that, Langa Mavuso’s music has offered a pathway to self-reflection irrespective of your relationship status. Through his story, we have found pieces of ourselves and found courage to love wholeheartedly, even after heartbreak. His candid lyrics wrapped in reminiscent melodies have provided a space for our hearts to heal; and that is the gift of Langa Mavuso.