The wait for Ady Suleiman’s first album is finally over. While it seems like he’s been UK soul’s next
big thing for the past 3 or 4 years, we’ve only been tempted with sporadic EP releases up to now.
Having signed to Syco in 2016, but parting ways with Simon Cowell’s label before Memories was
released, this project has surely been in the works for a long time. This said, the album is far from a
perfect maiden voyage, even if Suleiman’s vocal talents are beautiful and undeniable.
‘I remember’ opens the album with a perfect demonstration of what you can expect from this tape.
The instrumentation is lively and sways beautifully under Suleiman’s soulful voice, unfortunately,
however, you should become accustomed to his awkward song writing. A track about a connection
that was “special like ice and tea,” I groaned immediately when I heard the first refrain of the album;
“I remember when we were fucking.” For all the emotion in his vocals, the approach he takes to his
lyrics are childish, shallow and cringeworthy, serving only to make me less endeared to his character.
Fortunately, ‘need somebody to love’ feels somewhat more sincere in partnership with its bouncy
percussion. Its on the vocal ad libs of this cut that we’re introduced to Suleiman’s unique vocal
range, nestled among the vibrant chorus. The question then begs to be asked, why did he add an
extra minute of increasingly meaningless lyrics onto the end of, what could have been, a relaxed and
focussed cut? This is an issue visible throughout the whole album, as Suleiman indulges in drawn-out
instrumental closures to tracks that simply don’t need them.
Undoubtedly, the greatest strength of Memories is the way that Suleiman’s voice intertwines so
smooth among expert production. ‘Serious’ is a standout song in this regard, with its atmospheric
synth build that crashes into another captivating chorus. His Nottingham roots peek out in his vocals
in just the right way, expressing personality without overwhelming ears. ‘Memories’ possesses these
same qualities in a track that’s far more sultry. His distant voice lingers in the space breathed into
the instrumental, by an elegant acoustic guitar matched by whispering vocal support. As is
symptomatic with the album, the track closes to a cliché electric guitar solo that drags away
attention from the beauty of his performance. Overall, ‘not giving up’ is the track that I will
remember most from this project. From the chorus that halts and drops emphatically, to the full
brass backing that swathes into the last third of the track, this song feels perfectly composed to
convey Suleiman’s sentiment for a past love. I’m pleased to say that the lyrics feel equally sincere and
needless to say his vocal performance oozes style and soul too.
Unfortunately, I can’t leave Memories feeling fully satisfied. Suleiman’s song writing is so
infuriatingly cliché that it greatly de values the clear quality of his work. If he hadn’t displayed such
talent, in both production and his vocals, perhaps I wouldn’t leave feeling cheated out of a truly
brilliant album; all the signs indicate that Suleiman has so much more to give. I wait with open ears
for his future endeavours, with hope that he has something of substance to say next time.