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Rootz Underground - Gravity

Rootz Underground - Gravity

Rootz Underground - Gravity

By on - 2 comments

The first truly 21st century reggae and forward thinking album I have heard.


For me the year got off rather slowly as far as quality new releases go but now over the past month or so things seem to be improving greatly, and keeping this trend going is the new album from Rootz Underground 'Gravity'.

The band first broke through two years ago with the acclaimed 'Movement', an album that subtly blended reggae rock and jazz. This album again sees this fusion plus some other new tricks picked up after spending a lot of time on the road touring America and Europe. Musicianship on here is impeccable and lead vocalist Stefen Newland's voice has an engaging gravely, soulful tone to it. Unfortunately though at times it can be a bit strained and croaky which makes it a bit uncomfortable to listen to, especially at points on Jah Love Is The Solution, which is a shame as this is a very melodic number that starts with a gentle piano, muted trumpet and strings before breaking into an easy sway.

The beginning of the album is in true roots reggae style with a brief spoken piece from his Majesty Ras Tafari then Power to the People kicks in. This song the band has livicated to the people of Haiti after the terrible earthquake that hit there in January and as you can imagine from the title it's about the struggle to break free of the slavery of capitalism. It starts off with radiating horns before there is a transition from brass to strings as a fiddle takes over and the vocal becomes more broken in an almost version style. This is then followed by the fantastic Unknown Soldier, a deep brooding piece of Rasta, rebel, consciousness. Another strong roots number is Raging Bull, that has a very strong feel of Marley's So Much Trouble In The World.

Modern Day Jericho is the first track on the album to break away from a reggae format and musically has that American MOR soft rock sound. Lyrically though the song contains plenty of Rasta sentiments. This for me is what is most intriguing about the album that even though they are not always using a typical reggae blue print musically to impart their message the lyrical content is always immediately recognizable has having a Rastafarian slant. Take Rastaman Experience a song of spreading Jah love but on top of a very rock, blues, dubby canvas, while Enlighten Me a damning song about Babylonian lies is minimalist electronica.

This band may not be for the reggae purists but I like what I've heard and admire the fact that they are not afraid to mix it up and break free from the confines of sticking religiously to a musical genre. Make no mistake though this is still a reggae album and for me the first truly 21st century reggae and forward thinking album I have heard.

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Read comments (2)

Posted by Perfectionist on 07.10.2010
This band produces the best reggae music on the planet. Simple.

Posted by Rootsman on 07.10.2010
Sure, riddims on this album sound good, although not all off them.. What I saw in the review of the band is my opinion as well, The leadsinger´s voice get´s uncomfortable to listen to after a few tunes...

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