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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

‘Proof of Life’ found at the Roadrunner

Singer-songwriter Joy Oladokun’s tour comes to Boston
Jesse Barnett
Joy Oladokun electrifies the stage at her show in Boston on Oct. 4.

Folk-pop singer-songwriter Joy Oladokun took the stage in Boston at the Roadrunner Oct. 4, a tour de force in vocal and lyrical prowess.

Oladokun’s “Living Proof” tour began in August, bringing the artist’s talents across the country, showcasing the vulnerable storytelling and musical ingenuity of “Proof of Life,” Oladokun’s third album. 

The sincere and genuine character of Oladokun’s music is a canvas for the artist’s experiences as a queer Black person and of finding resilience, hope and belonging in the light of the struggles and pain of the human experience. 

Opener Jensen McRae set the bar high for the quality of music an excited Boston crowd was in for. The 26-year-old singer-songwriter wowed with poetic lyricism and resounding vocal control and range, lilting between deep, rich-toned low notes and beautiful notes in the upper register.

McRae took the stage solo with her acoustic guitar in hand, shining a spotlight on the up-and-coming artist’s candid storytelling and captivating vocal quality, the two aspects combining to transport the audience into McRae’s experiences and creating the environment for emotional connection through songs including “Fever Dream,” “My Ego Dies At The End” and “God Has a Hitman.”

Oladokun opened her set with “Keeping the Light On,” a passionate anthem of finding light in the darkness and perseverance. Fans met the song, the first on the album, with enthusiasm, singing along to every lyric as Oladokun and her band took the stage. The artist’s penmanship in each of her original songs was shown throughout the concert in the raw and honest emotion that filled the venue.

Following a triplet of songs from “Proof of Life” with the band, Oladokun’s talents took center stage on a new level as she performed a solo set, a masterful blend of original songs and covers. 

First in the stripped-down set was then-unreleased “Black Car” blended into a cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car.” Despite not knowing the lyrics to Oladokun’s new song prior to its release Oct. 13, it resonated with the crowd all the same with Oladokun’s signature vulnerability. This was balanced perfectly with Oladokun’s rendition of “Fast Car,” a song very well-suited for the artist, with a clear creative lineage between Oladokun and Chapman in their musical honesty and style.

This duo flowed effortlessly into a combo of Oladokun’s “Somehow” and a cover of Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle,” a combo that complimented each other perfectly in message; with “Somehow”’s theme focused on the cyclical nature of life and how everything gets better with time and “The Middle”’s “everything, everything’ll be alright.” The cover, a true show of Oladokun’s vocal range, resounded through the venue like an affirmation from the artist. 

“Sunday,” from Oladokun’s 2021 album “In Defense of My Own Happiness,” rounded out the solo set. Without seeing the stage, the song sounds as if numerous voices had joined the artist on stage, a testament to her ability to layer vocal harmonies live, a truly magical process to see live.

Oladokun’s band rejoined the artist onstage as they took on Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” putting her own twist on the classic song with a hard rock beat created by Oladokun on electric guitar and her band, bassists Gray Schweers and Colin Micah Wells and drummer Josh Scott. 

Visually, details were perfectly selected for a simplistic stage that kept the focus throughout on the artist and music itself, paired with great stage presence from both Oladokun and her band. The interactions between each member on stage showed the bond and respect between the artist and her band, connections that are palpable to concert-goers.

To end the show, Oladokun ended with another combo of original and cover, with “Look Up” and her take on The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony,” leaving the audience with one final sentiment for the night. 

“This is your reminder to hold on,” Oladokun said.

Oladokun brings her talents south for the second leg of the tour, beginning in Dallas, Texas, Nov. 4. 

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About the Contributor
Maren Halpin, News Editor | she/her
Maren is a sophomore print/web journalism major with a minor in political science from Milford, Massachusetts. When she’s not in The Journal office, you can usually find Maren in Suffolk’s orientation office or at an on-campus event. In her free time, she loves to go to her favorite coffee shops, listen to Noah Kahan, Hozier and Taylor Swift on repeat, explore the city and spend time with family and friends. Maren is passionate about politics and hopes to go into political journalism in the future. 

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