In an entertainment world where every detail of everyone’s life is put on display and everything is often over-marketed (seemingly at the expense of the actual music created) it was a bit alarming when I struggled to find background on Brika, and Art House Records, the record label that released her debut album, Voice Memos.

What I could find is that Art House Records is a Miami-based independent label that spent three years on developing Briana Alexa Martinez, who was born and raised in Miami, and that 2014 was their first year of operation. There’s the standard Wikipedia page, which doesn’t give much but it is worth checking out here bio on the label’s site (available HERE). In a way, the tone and style of writing of the bio is the perfect reflection of Brika’s songwriting and music – playful, creative, often, beautiful and sometimes sad.

From the first listen, Voice Memos draws you in with its warmth and soulfulness. Even when she’s singing about love that isn’t necessarily worth it, as she does (my interpretation) on Options, it feels comfortable.

…sometimes love isn’t big, to stop planes and trains like in the cinemas… Options

The album isn’t overproduced, especially with songs like Overtime, which is jazz-tinged, driven primarily by vaudeville/silent movie type piano playing. The piano forms the foundation for most of the production including the melancholic Demons as well as Go, featuring Bogart, a rapper I hadn’t heard of till this but I’d definitely like to hear more from.

…And momma always said no-one’s really gonna care for you in the outside world, there are demons and they’ll spit you out, you better wear a mask and stay indoors, but I can’t believe you and I can’t see who don’t want to be loved… Demons

And just when it feels like the sadness is going to linger, she injects some eroticism where she finds a way to equate bedroom gymnastics with a game of Tetris.

At 32 minutes, it is a short album that leaves you craving more and the only thing that can feed that growing itch for more of her music is Repeat.

A thank you to Lima Bean for putting me onto Brika so I could add her to Digital Crates.

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About Kojo Baffoe

Of Ghanaian/German heritage, raised in Lesotho and currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Kojo is the proverbial slashie, the professional ‘jack of all trades.’ He is an entrepreneur, writer, facilitator, content architect, former men’s magazine editor and speaker. He has a Bachelor of Commerce (1994) with majors in Economics, Marketing and Business Administration from the former the University of Natal (Durban), now University of KwaZulu-Natal.

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