Following the release of her 2019 extended play (EP), “Ama, who?” London-based R&B artist Ama Lou returned Nov. 26 with “AT LEAST WE HAVE THIS,” a release captivating in its versatility and triumphant in its honest contemplations of love.
The EP is complete despite its brevity, with its 12-minute runtime and four-track orientation providing prime ground for the exercise of Ama Lou’s unique artistic compass.
While the baby picture on the cover coats the EP’s possessions in nostalgia, Ama Lou, now 23, succeeds in piercing this thick layer of remembrance with the pointedness of her narrative retelling.
The opener, “Trust Nobody,” is a heart-rending explanation of Ama Lou’s distrust of love as well as a courageous ode to self-respect. “See why I don’t trust nobody?” she asks in the softly rolling chorus, recounting how a lover’s breeziness threatened her autonomy.
This feeling of constraint manifests rhythmically as she binds the ends of phrases to the beginnings of the next, tying her reflections to a forwarding movement. Her unflinching address and maturity of evaluation lend themselves to the creation of something truly moving.
The following track, “Same Old Ways,” captures a moment of wavering in Ama Lou’s pursuit of independence. Though she strives for independence, temptation threatens the peace.
In her regression scored by marching Afrobeat, she prowls, “When I said do it, yeah, I meant today / Watch me touch roads on my same old ways.” Addressing the subject of her desire, she sings, “Naivety’s more endearin’ than you know, sweets / But it makes you sleepy.”
The drowsiness of naivete clouds her ultimate judgment. She craves the immediacy and bliss of lust even while deeper love and recognition remain as her goal.
In the house-inspired “All I Can Say,” Ama Lou propels full-speed into fraught freedom. She gasps through swirling synths, “Wrote too many songs ‘bout things that went wrong / When you’re the only thing that makes it right.” While her songcraft provides solace, the hurt it unveils leads her spiraling back to familiar hurt.
“No one’s ever made me safer / So soothing, this manifesting s*** works / I can get back to them later / I’m free and lettin’ go of gettin’ hurt,” she sings in the troubling second verse.
When unfit providers fail to fulfill her needs of love and recognition, she seeks refuge in wishing. Her resolve to vacate pain delays her quest and misses a crucial step of moving on — acknowledging the possibility of getting hurt again.
“What kinda last laugh, bad batch / Of stock you sellin’ me here?” Ama Lou demands to know in the victorious closer, “Talk Quiet.” The holy embrace of the squad in squalor provides refuge for Ama Lou to finally focus her mind.
She questions unsparingly the empty intentions of lovers: “Are you sure you gon’ be pleased for me / When I’m no longer giving you my time?” Grasping her time tightly to her heart, she advances toward a future no less unwavering than uncertain.