Album Review

Aisha Badru – The Way Back Home: EP Review

Aisha Badru gives up happy and atmospheric songs of contentment on The Way Back Home; her new EP.

Release Date:  3rd December 2021

Label: Nettwerk Records

Formats: Digital

Aisha Badru has had a troubled life, but, happily, things are a lot better for her now, and, with her new EP, The Way Back Home, Aisha celebrates her new-found stability and, in the process, gives us all a dose of reassurance.

A native of Yonkers, New York, Aisha endured an underprivileged childhood and sought, via writing, literature and music, a route to something better.  A couple of self-released EPs helped her on her way, culminating in 2018 with her debut album, Pendulum, a piece of work which catalogued her upbringing.  Aisha has now settled in her house outside Orlando, Florida with her partner and her twin toddlers and The Way Back Home is a collection of songs that, in turn, allow her to reconcile her past whilst reflecting on the happiness of her new life and offering encouragement to anyone still travelling the road she took.  And it’s all done through the medium of lush, atmospheric soundscapes, folky interludes and thoughtful lyrics all expressed in Aisha’s trademark whispered, intimate vocal.

The Way Back Home has clearly been a labour of love for Aisha.  Her transformation from pain to happiness is meticulously documented – as Aisha admits: “I feel like we live two lives at once.  For me [these songs record] the image of what I thought I was, and then watching that person die by the hand of truth.  Being reborn.  While writing The Way Back Home, I knew exactly what to say without thinking about it.  It was as if I was writing exactly from my heart.” 

And boy, does it show.  The Way Back Home has been described as “The sonic equivalent of a comforting hug,” and that’s a great way of putting it.

In opening track Graves, to a tune that evolves from a ponderous piano piece into a widescreen sound collage, Aisha takes a look back at her past and recognizes that the shame, blame and pain that she suffered have not been healed, just hidden, but still, the overall effect of song is one of encouragement and a sense that the happier present can now be embraced.  The lush, soothing Roots notes that, despite our circumstances, we each have a reason to be here and the lyrics pick out the things that can make our presence and existence worthwhile.

Title track, The Way Back Home is folkier, with softly strummed acoustic providing the main accompaniment to Aisha’s whispered musings, but even here, the rich synth sounds still play their part.  The song’s insightful lyrics reflect on the benefits of travel and experience whilst noting that these have the greatest value when they lead to a permanent and welcoming home.

That theme is continued in Home.  To a fulfilling mix of synth, piano and acoustic guitar, Aisha reflects on her own experiences of travel, but points out how mundane, even pointless, they would have been without the happy ending she now enjoys and, particularly, the pleasure she now gets from watching and helping her children to grow.  As she says in the heartwarming closing line to the song: “Even when we are apart, I’ll always save you the cosiest seat in my heart.”

Perhaps the culmination of all of Aisha’s reflections on The Way Back Home comes in penultimate track Worthwhile.  Described as “A lullaby for life,” Worthwhile is a remarkably optimistic song that concludes that, even in a world blighted by COVID, climate change and families separated by border politics, the resilience of a stable, loving family and a contented life can make the whole thing worth it.

Aisha returns to the subject of her changed life for final track Rebirth.  It’s an interesting spoken word piece that transforms from a backing of percussive effects and a synth drone to something between a calypso and a samba that perfectly represents Aisha’s celebration of conquering her tribulations.

These are dark times for all of us and it’s truly refreshing to hear Aisha’s story on The Way Back Home.  This is a collection of songs from which we call take heart.

Watch the Official lyric video to The Way Back Home from Aisha Badru, the title track of the EP, here:

Aisha Badru: Website / Facebook / Instagram / YouTube

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