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Etana - I Rise

Etana - I Rise

Etana - I Rise

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Onwards and upwards for Etana.

Sampler

Etana – the soft-spoken singer songwriter with the room-shaking voice - had a promising start with albums The Strong One and Free Expressions. She really came into her own, however, with Shane Brown produced third effort Better Tomorrow, where she reoriented her soul-reggae fusion towards fierier roots.

It was a side to her always evidenced by moments on her earlier records such as Jah Chariot or War. And with fourth album I Rise she takes it even further: reflecting the shift in Jamaican reggae away from pop and R&B to the harder sounds of decades gone by (a change Etana supported in interviews – asking why the foundation didn’t get more radio play). Project manager here is the great Clive Hunt – producer of the Abyssinians, multi-instrumentalist and horn arranger extraordinaire.

etana A melismatic opening intro of Mortimer Planno/Artie Glen’s Selassie is the Chapel might suggest an hour of gospel balladry – but no, the first stanza of I Rise is strictly roots. On muscular lament How Long, and a cover of crucial influence Marcia GriffithsStepping Out of Babylon, Etana's vocal makes Hunt's brassy, bottom heavy dance-rocking rhythms her home.

The middle section yields powerful love songs with complex contemporary hooks (the anti-materialistic Richest Girl and Love Song, the Answer-based By Your Side). Yet their foundations too are  bolstered by chest-hitting drums and velvety bass. Just as her modern R&B delivery sat well with Shane Brown’s backing’s - mixed by his father Errol in a Tuff Gong style – once again the old-meets-new collaboration with Hunt strikes gold.

Then it’s back to hard reality with the trauma tackling Ward 21 - where Etana even turns her lungs and tongue to deejaying - and the pugnaciously drummed, openly Rasta, Emancipation. As the experience draws to a close Jam Credits lets her hail Hunt and the bevy of constituent musicians in a far more confident speaking voice than on her previous work. (These include Wya Lindo, Handel Tucker, Scully Sims, Bongo Herman, Kirk Bennett, Sly Dunbar, Flabba Holt, Robbie Shakespeare and master mixing engineer Stephen Stanley).

The only disappointment is that the title track is not a cover of Maya Angelou’s famous poem I’ll Rise. Though Etana’s Angelou-inspired original composition is excellent it would be great to hear her interpret that empowerment anthem (as she has Marcia, and the Wailers).

Onwards and upwards for Etana – she just gets better with each album. This bigger step into classical territory while maintaining her soulful edge demonstrates an ever greater command of her sound. 

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Posted by beve Sinclair on 10.29.2014
You have come such a long way, you've created such an easy rapport with the artistes that makes them openly talk from the heart giving us the best interviews to read..

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