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Late summer dusky vibes on offer here with the recently released 13 tracker from Sahra Indio
A lavish project and brainchild of the community arena’s Digikal Roots who undertook the mammoth task along side Sahra of presenting a uniformed and flowing set of songs yet at the same time giving the listener a varied blend of styles to be entertained with. The album’s rise to release took the long way round, to say that it went round the houses is an understatement , it’s been round the world and back with various musicians and engineers all adding their own spice to the blend. Sahra’s vocal delivery throughout the album never faultering, in fact I would be bold enough to state that she has probably the strongest and - in contrast- the smoothest singing voice in the current arena.
What is pleasant to hear in these songs is the use of traditional instruments that you would hear in rock or pop music for instance on ‘Finish Line’ which has a short but effective lead guitar solo one wouldn’t expect to hear on reggae, then again we didn’t expect to hear that on Bob Marley albums did we.. also the drum track leans towards the traditional rock structure but fits perfectly along side the message from Sahra during this piece; never give up, keep pushing yourself forward and give thanks for the opertunity to do so, the song structure itself lending an ear towards the commercial positiveness of Morcheeba style yet staying firmly in reggae territory complete with a warm organ wash throughout the mix, this track should be a single.
In contrast yet strangely in uniform is the track ‘Testify’ which contains lead guitar almost throughout the mix yet blended deeper, a tune featuring a wonderful jazz inspired saxophone joyfully playing in tandem with the guitar, there are flutes, acoustic guitars and an up tempo one drop riddim track full of percussive elements and touches, an uplifting and very sincere love song with Sahra professing her love for her other half and again, sung with absolute authority.
‘Right Fight’ ; a semi acoustic number underpinned throughout by a nyahbingi riddim track and an acoustic guitar which regularly surfaces to give lead lick duties, throughout the mix is a warm synth wash giving the track it’s film score ambience, Sahra’s thought provoking lyrics in protest stance against the negative system we find ourselves living along side, unashamedly reminding us of what we are all aware of and what we as a society have let happen. If there is ever a documentary film worthy of a tune from today’s reggae and world arena it’s this tune.
Another up tempo one drop calling is the ‘very reminiscent of’ Peter Tosh vibed ‘Pro Marijuana’ with it’s more traditional reggae sound both in riddim track and back in the mix keyboard work and strong bass run, one of those tunes that sway ya body in fine style and at the same time has you singing along with the chorus, an uplifting and positive nod to the herb. The song finishing with that late summer dusky ambience of crickets chirping in the bush, the original Bush Mama in control of the soul.
One of the star tracks of the show for me both in music and in lyrics is ‘I’m Not The Only One’ and It’s dub version, Engineered by foundation producer Don Fe this is a pure steppers delight, a from time reggae vibe and mix. I have to admit a fondness for Don Fe mixing, when he’s left alone to dub up a mix he rarely fails to deliver and on the dub cut of ‘Im Not The Only Dub’ he springs straight into Prince Jammy territory pushing the vintage envelope; riddim snippet out - then in – then out – then in at the start of the track and a dub cut resplendent with that instantly recognizable ‘abrupt stop’echo style ( I refer to albums such as Johnny Osbourne in dub and Uhuru in dub from the early 80s) he uses sounds awesome,with vintage organ washes and reverbed percussion elements panning throughout Don Fe reminds us of where he’s at in the arena.
The ‘Eastern Aroma’ riddim is deployed for the track ‘DNA’ an instantly recognizable Digikal Roots riddim track, another Digikal Roots riddim is used on ‘Natural Living’ with it’s trademark old style Digi Roots sound mix complete with brass stabs and it’s ‘Impact’sound clarity, a rolling bass line and vintage organ gluing the whole thing together, this is an easy going Sunday morning skanker.
Finishing the album off is the acoustical breezy ‘At The Awa Bar’ a song that seals the late summer dusky ambience in fine round the campfire style pre gig gathering. Lovely.
A feel good album with a sincere message. Commercially it’s gold. This is an album tailor made for the ordinary reggae fan, there is a style and fashion to suit many an ear.
Gibsy Rhodes (SpringlineJamaica)