Idris Elba may be best known for his acting roles as Stringer from such roles in HBO’s The Wire and his portrayal of Nelson Mandela in the biofilm Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom among others but there’s also a musical side to Elba. A successful DJ on the side, he has appeared in various music videos and opened Madonna’s Rebel Heart tour last year in Berlin while this year Elba has produced an album based on John Luther; the character he has portrayed on BBC One series, Luther.
Elba and co-producer Fred Cox recruited a stellar array of established and upcoming musicians to interpret Elba’s vision. With featured artists like Kasabian’s Tom Meighan (Sinner Man); Shakka (Wide Awake); and Wretch 32 on board (Murdah Loves John), the album is pretty solid. Meighan’s rough and edgy vocals suit the sinister Sinner Man; the song successfully builds drama with its downbeat verses/bridge before exploding into a killer chorus.
Shakka works his magic on the reggae influenced Wide Awake with his gentle yet enthusiastic vocal; the percussion blends in with the soothing guitars. The title track also features newcomer Tanika who does a commendable job on this record. Wretch 32’s contribution and the dramatic strings and keys helps make the autobiographical tune memorable.
For something lighter hearted, Paradise Circus is a welcome addition to Murdah Loves John. Fabienne’s gentle vocals which are accompanied by an acoustic guitar and choir set a mellow tone. Also notable is Greighwolfe’s contribution on closing track Bridges; his roaring, soulful voice make the track a powerful inclusion along with its subtle yet persuasive arrangement.
Idris Elba demonstrated how broad his talents really are with Murdah Loves John. To be able to express a visual character into a listening experience is a very creative move. Fans of the show get to experience the character of John Luther in a different way while Idris recruited an effective team of musicians to create something special and the result is a solid staple to the star’s portfolio.