Living legend of highlife – new album on Strut Records September 2019
“”joyous… radiant and full of light” – The Guardian
“The torchbearer for highlife returns with a new album that is full of timeless charm.” Radio Nova
“Afrobeat meets highlife in another spirited set from veteran bandleader enjoying a late career-surge in popularity.” Sunday Times
“A deep and soulful journey into the heart of Ghana’s highlife music.” Vinyl Factory
The modern-day leaders of Ghanaian highlife music are back! Strut is proud to announce Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band’s sophomore release ‘Obiaa!’, released on 20th September 2019. The album, produced again by Kwame Yeboah and Ben Abarbanel-Wolff at Lovelite Studio’s analogue HQ in Berlin, is a deep and soulful journey into the heart of Ghana’s indigenous highlife music celebrating the timeless and iconic voice of Pat Thomas, the 72 year-old “Golden Voice of Africa”. After producing Ebo Taylor’s seminal albums ‘Love and Death’ and ‘Appia Kwa Bridge’ for Strut Records, in 2014 Ben Abarbanel-Wolff approached Kwame Yeboah, Ghana’s top contemporary instrumentalist and bandleader, to work on a new project: “We initially wanted to invite Pat back into the studio with Ebo Taylor and Tony Allen to recreate and expand on some of the vibes they had recorded together during a lost session in 1977,” Ben explains. Recorded in Accra, the result was the critically acclaimed self-titled debut album ‘Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band’ in 2015.
Pat and the Kwashibu Area Band (named after Kwame’s neighborhood in Accra) hit the road in October 2015. After a memorable performance at WOMEX in Budapest, they never looked back. The next two years took them around the world to play at major venues and festivals including Glastonbury, Roskilde, WOMAD, Sakifo, WOMADelaide, Sines and many more. “We could see there was something for everyone in our music. People of all ages, colours and trends were all dancing together!’ explains Kwame, the mastermind behind the band’s unbelievable precision and killer live show.
The new album is called ‘Obiaa!’ which means ‘Everybody!’. Tracks include the modern parables ‘Onfa Nkosi Hwee’ warning against arrogance and ‘Odo Ankasa’ about the value of real love and trust as well as a great new cover of Thomas’ Afro-disco favourite ‘Yamona’. “Playing highlife around the world taught us what we had to do to move our sound forward,” continues Ben. While simultaneously looking back towards the classic days of highlife and forward to a modern revival of the guitar band sound, this album puts Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band exactly where they belong: at the front, dancing with everybody.
‘Obiaa!’ is released on all formats on 20th September. The album features exclusive cover artwork by Lewis Heriz and photos by Luis Mora and is mastered by Édouard Bonan at Ed-Room Studio in Paris.