An ethereal, almost spiritual experience
Adam England
10:32 7th June 2021

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How do you describe an artist like Greentea Peng? Born Aria Wells, she labels herself as psychedelic R'n'B, and there’s plenty of truth in that, but neo-soul, jazz, funk, reggae and hip-hop influences also seep through, and no more so than on MAN MADE, her long-awaited debut album. 

As a cohesive record, it twists and turns through what is an ethereal and almost spiritual experience; at 18 tracks and an hour and a minute long, it’s one hell of a statement in the streaming era, when numerous artists are choosing to go for thirty or forty minute-long records built for playlists. 

‘Make Noise’ is the perfect atmospheric opener as Greentea sets out her stall and makes a few dedications: “This is for the collective and not the culture”, “for Krishna and Jah, for Atum’s eyes” and “for the youth that can't bе silenced nor battered nor beaten” - for all of the references to spirituality, this record is a call to arms for everyone who needs it. The blend of spirituality and politics makes it one that is perfectly fitting for the times we’re in, especially for Gen Z fans trying to make sense of the world and where they’re going. 

“Nah It Ain’t The Same” conjures up thoughts of a jazz bar à la Amy Winehouse, but with Wells’ own spin on things - it’s vintage Greentea Peng, and the sort of thing that’s sure to satisfy longer-term fans of the musician. Then there’s ‘Dingaling’, which acknowledges the influence of Channel U, the now defunct grime-focused channel being a key part of the musical education of Brits of a certain age. In contrast, penultimate track ‘Sinner’ dabbles in blues-infused rock and showcases Greentea’s versatility as an artist and the way she can mold her mesmerising voice to fit any style.

The music simultaneously feels carefully considered and as if Wells could have thought it up on the spur of the moment and just made it work. Taking some time out in the country with her band The Seng Seng Family, she recorded MAN MADE in 432 Hz frequency - a semitone below the music industry standard and believed to vibrate healing energy.

“It’s not a joke ting” Greentea declares on ‘Be Careful', and the same can be said for her work. Underestimate her - and the power of music - at your peril. One of the most exciting UK artists making music right now? You’d be hard pressed to argue otherwise.

MAN MADE is out now.

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Photo: Press