Poppy Ajudha Explores Social Issues In Debut Album The Power In Us
Fans of Amy Winehouse’s voice and songs focused on social issues will enjoy Poppy Ajudha’s debut album, The Power In Us. The Power In Us is a collection of songs with musical stylings ranging from jazz to more rock and pop beats. Poppy is unafraid of standing up for her beliefs, and addresses feminism, colonialism, gender politics, and other current social issues in her lyrics. Ajudha’s songs speak of today’s global unrest, the on-going pandemic and social injustice which has put a heavy weight on young people, ultimately affecting their mental health.
As Ajudha states,
“This album is made up of all the things swimming in my mind, from women’s rights, to the right to cross borders, to the power of young people to inspire and be unafraid to rock the boat in the name of progress…Every song on this album touches on these issues because they are all I think about everyday, all I see around me in my friends and my family. I hope it flips a switch in your mind, like it did for mine.”
The album begins with the electrifying “WHOSE FUTURE? OUR FUTURE!” Ajudha’s voice floats in and out as background vocalists chant, “We can change (We want inclusive and intersectional feminism)/ If we try (We say no to misogyny)/ You, you, we say no, no, no, no (We say no to racism)/ We want resistance on the job/ We need resistance in our heart and in our music/ We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comеs.” “WHOSE FUTURE? OUR FUTURE!” is the perfect song to start off the album with its motivational and powerful lyrics.
The next song, “PLAYGOD,” was inspired by the Alabama abortion bill, as it reinforces women’s rights, and questions a weaponized God-complex among men. It’s an anthem for women who need encouragement to feel empowered and to speak up for themselves. The song starts off simply with Poppy’s vocals and a simple instrumentation that builds up to the chorus, where the drums and heavy electric guitar bring a rock vibe. It also integrates clips from speeches by female politicians speaking out against the Alabama abortion bill.
Watch the music video for “PLAYGOD” here:
“HOLIDAY FROM REALITY” is the third song on the album, and expresses Ajudha’s desire to escape from the stress and pain of life. However, it still holds an optimistic tone as Poppy ends the song singing, “It’s drivin’ me crazy/ The way I’m movin’ lately/ Only me can save me now (Got to get the dream right)/ It’s drivin’ me crazy/ The way I’m movin’ lately/ Only me can save me now/ Got to get the dream right/ I got to get my dream right.” Ajudha’s lyrics show how sometimes the only person who can encourage her and motivate her to stay on track and follow her dreams is herself.
The following track, “MOTHERS SISTERS GIRLFRIENDS,” has a more R&B feel, and highlights the pressure women face in light of living up to society’s expectations and ideas of what a woman “should be.” This message is emphasized through lyrics such as, “Tradition/ Wants control over my body/ Obligation/ Tells me who I should be/ Every woman/ Should do as she please.” Poppy further explains the meaning behind “MOTHER SISTERS GIRLFRIENDS,” saying that:
“Women don’t have to be just what they are taught to be, there is so much more to us than Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, Girlfriends and our relation to men. I want men to engage more heavily in feminism and really see how their defiance against it only holds both women and men back.”
“MOTHER SISTERS GIRLFRIENDS” smoothly transitions to the next track, “INTERLUDE – RECLAIM YOURSELF FINAL.” It starts with the ending of “MOTHER SISTERS GIRLFRIENDS” fading into the background as the sound of falling rain comes into focus. A radio announcer introduces the audience to Poppy, who speaks about the difficulty of fighting against oppression. She poses the everlasting question, “Am I setting my image in a way that takes away from the expression of my skill. Or am I reclaiming something that has been used to oppress me?” which is then followed up with, “And there is a power in being who you wanna be or being unjudged. I think that women are starting to reclaim their powеr in that sense.”
The sixth track, “DEMONS,” focuses on the struggles of mental health, with the pain of these struggles portrayed through the haunting sound of Poppy’s voice. Lyrics such as, “This wound is crippling you/ But you stand strong just like I do/ Wear your mask, put that makeup on/ Don’t you just disappoint give them what they want,” describe the ways people handle their mental health struggles, especially the younger generation.
As Poppy explains,
“We are in an era of so much information and I feel the weight that young people take on because we are the generation bombarded with global politics and a million causes that need fighting for. This calls for better understanding around mental health and a society that nurtures us rather than demands of us everything we have until all that is left is our Demons.”
“INTERLUDE – ALL FOR YOU” starts off once again with the sound of rain, just like in the previous interlude, but instead of Poppy speaking, she is singing. She sings about how she puts all this effort in for the happiness of an unspecified individual, possibly herself? Her mental health? The lyrics are kept vague, allowing listeners the opportunity to apply the message of the song to their own life.
“FALL TOGETHER” continues the discussion around mental health, especially when it comes to having relationships with other people also struggling. The first verse of the song perfectly encapsulates this message, “Such a poor a connection in a world that’s blind/ Rip out my heart, rip out my mind/ Searchin’ for reflection in a warted stye/ Liquid in my eyes, two walls collide.” “FALL TOGETHER – OUTRO (ft. Nubya Garcia)” is a continuation of “FALL TOGETHER,” however, it is mainly an instrumental featuring the saxophone, with Nubya Garcia whispering lyrics from “FALL TOGETHER” in the background.
The message of the next song, “LAND OF THE FREE,” veers away from mental health, focusing instead on the paradox of having to protest for rights in the “land of the free,” specifically in the United States. This flows well thematically into the next song, “LONDON’S BURNING,” which serves as a commentary on the impact and importance of immigration on British Culture.
Watch the music video for “LONDON’S BURNING” here:
(WARNING: Flashing lights/imagery in the music video may not be suitable for those with photosensitive epilepsy)
“POWER YOU MIGHT SHARE” is the final, and shortest, track on The Power In Us. The thirty second song ends with two lines that sum up the central idea of the album, “Treat me kind, treat me fair/ Treat me like this power you might share.” Ajudha just wants people to be treated with respect, and to not suffer needlessly, as is demonstrated throughout the entire album. The Power In Us is full of anthems for anyone wanting to fight for social justice, which are more powerful with the strength of Poppy’s vocals and the inclusion of speeches concerning different movements and causes.
Poppy Ajudha is also going on tour! Dates for the European tour can be found on her official website (North American tour dates are TBA).
Listen to The Power In Us below: