Jubilee from Zema is an album that is right up my musical street! It has to be said though I'd never heard of this artist before, although this is apparently her sixth album!
It was recorded with the classic roots, rock, reggae group, the Gladiators Band at Harry J's Studio in Kingston, Jamaica. Zema has been touring with the Gladiators over the last couple years and this album really demonstrates the musical bond they have developed. The Gladiators bring powerful riddims that really heightens her talents as singer, songwriter and musician. Then to top it all off Zema has produced the album as well! A many faceted lady indeed.
The title and opening track 'Jubilee' gets things off with a very uplifting start in a superb mix, much like The Wailers style circa the 1981 Confrontation LP. I can also hear on this track in particular an instantly deejay able 12” with the commercially, catchiness of something like Althea & Donna.
'Trouble Never Set' is equally excellent and sounds like it could have come from the ‘Rastaman Vibration’ album sessions, while on 'Reap What You Sow' the whole musical backdrop is oozing with old time Rock Steady recording sound, yet faster of course, but has that vibe the way the mix is presented and has a wonderful organ before the fade out.
Fourth track is a cover of Bill Withers 'Aint No Sunshine'. This track was also covered by Horace Andy on the 'You Are My Angel' album and Zema's version is just as good with the riddim having a real past masters vibe against her smokey ‘jazz club’ vocal.
Low point of the album for me is 'Do It In Love'. Can't really put it down to one thing just each to his own I suppose. 'Warning' sees a cracking return to form, although Zema takes abit of a back seat on this duet. The riddim is powerful; with its rumbling bass line presenting a song with a serious message that's not in ya face over this cool tune.
Next its back again with that ‘rock steady’ sound on way the mixdown was performed and again it's faster paced, I really like this mixdown style. The song 'Power In Unity' has another serious message put across softly so one has time to enjoy the sound. 'Time Of Trouble' is another cool tune that harks back again to that Wailers essence.
Penultimate vocal track 'Trod' sees Harmonica and riddim track blending together in fine style, this goes straight back to those virgin frontline albums from late 70s – mid 80s Prince Tony Robinson styleee (producer of Big Youth et al from those golden days)
'Firefall' is yet another classic riddim with a simple yet strong bass line while Zema's wails a conscious lyric.
The last four tracks of the album are some nice dubby workings of 'Aint No Sunshine', 'Reap What You Sow', 'Time Of Trouble' and 'Jubilee'.
In all this album shows a great artistic ability that embraces the classic roots vibes of old and is not to be missed!