R&B | Soul
I cant quite remember how I discovered the single that ultimately introduced me to the musical project of Bermondsey singer Aria Wells, known as Greentea Peng, but I know that that single was called “Mr. Sun (miss da sun)”.
I thoroughly enjoyed this single for the soothingly warm vibes that it carried. And given that I discovered this single in the early Autumn of 2019, it felt like a vibe that was definitely needed. That being said, I quickly became a fan of Greentea Peng and her sound, which I got to get a greater taste from with thanks to Peng’s 2019 EP RISING, a short project that closely followed the release of “Mr. Sun (miss da sun)”, and featured said single as one of its 6 tracks.
I thought that this EP was indeed a very solid listen. However, I felt that 2020 was truly the year that Greentea Peng had my full attention, as someone who pushed an exciting and empowering new style of reggae-tinged psychedelic soul. The aforementioned warm and soothing vibe would go on to be something that this artist championed effortlessly, and it made the build-up towards her debut album truly exciting.
There was quite a generous handful of 2020 tracks that really made Greentea Peng one to watch in my mind. Leading the way for them, was the single “Ghost Town”; an empowering and uplifting slow-bouncing tune that felt like just the kind of single that was needed at the beginning of lockdown. Across the rest of that year, other great songs involving Greentea Peng included “Hu Man”, “Revolution”, “Spells”, and of course, there’s no forgetting her feature on p-rallel’s “soulboy”.
But it would turn out that Greentea Peng’s 2020 productivity was only a warm up, for the musical 2021 that she would ultimately have. It would be this year, where fans finally get the debut album from this exciting artist.
Titled MAN MADE, this debut album from Greentea Peng arrived fairly early in the year, with the release of its first teaser track “Nah It Aint The Same”, towards the end of February. However, the remaining three teaser tracks were released much closer to one-another, as well as the album itself. In fact, I wouldn’t get to listen to the final teaser track “Free My People”, until the release of MAN MADE in its entirety.
The overall vibe of the album is incredibly fitting, and stays true to the Greentea Peng that fans have come to adore. However, it did leave me with a somewhat conflicted feeling upon first listen. I thought that perhaps, the vibe of this album, at places, felt a little too soothing and chilled. Maybe it was just the fact that the weather was pretty grim on the day that I first listened to the full album, but I found it a bit more challenging than I anticipated to feel as gripped by the project.
Ultimately, MAN MADE initially came across as that kind of album that can only be fully embraced in certain situations; the first that came to my mind was sunbathing on the beach, under the blazing hot sun. But after experiencing this album more, in what I deemed to be more fiting weather, in comparison to the album’s vibe, I have started to feel this album grow on me more.
But what might’ve possibly made that growth in appeal more challenging for me, was potentially the fact that none of Greentea Peng’s 2020 tunes made the cut. If I were going to be brutally honest, her 2020 releases could’ve easily replaced the more mundane tracks found on MAN MADE. But ignoring the tracks that I deemed as duds, there are plenty of solid new tunes to be found as well.
I feel that, at this stage, my long-lasting opinion of Greentea Peng’s new album could go either way, between becoming a staple of the summer, and being a generally decent fix of new music. I certainly have high hopes, however, that the musical warmth, and messages of female empowerment, will help push MAN MADE towards the former.
Favourite Tracks: Nah It Ain’t The Same | Kali V2 | Jimtastic Blues
Least Favourite Track: Party Hard Interlude
Universal Music | AMF Records |EMI
Enjoyment: 8/10 | Memorability: 7/10 | Atmosphere: 8/10
Uniqueness: 7/10 | Satisfaction: 6/10 | Narrative: 8/10