Review: Now I'm Fine Dec 5, 2014

by Alithea O'Dell

When your reality is, or has at some point been, a surrealist fever dream in comparison to your peers, being able to talk about it without othering yourself any further than the experiences themselves have already othered you is a profound talent. A childhood that is made complicated with absent fathers, social anxiety, and poverty is just as valid as any alternative narrative, even if some (or most) would not view it as ideal. The stories of sadness that people grow out of are not always flowers bursting forth from putrid fertilizer, or trees pushing through cement. Sometimes these stories of triumph are just a matter of acknowledging that you come from weeds, and weeds are strong as hell. Those of us who have survived the fever dream can tell you: love can still exist in the absence of a relationship, expectations can still exist in the absence of dialogue, and healing can exist even when you find yourself every morning intentionally slicing at a wound.

Now I’m Fine is a performance about sadness, and the spectrum of emotion that can exist therein, in a way that honors it with humility and humor. The dynamic band of musicians construct the picture beyond the words, lending a subtle but vital context to Ahamefule Oluo’s story telling, and the profound vocal stylings of okanomodé SoulChilde create an ethereal and unexpected middle ground between the literal and orchestral duality of the performance. 

As Oluo moves between a composer of stories and composer of music, he finds the ability to present the nuances of a complicated time even when words fall short (or, aren’t welcome to begin with), and conducts his band with the passion of a composer who has not simply learned this music, but lived it.