The African reggae scene is more or less synonymous with three artists – Alpha Blondy and Tiken Jah Fakoly from Côte d’Ivoire and the late Lucky Dube from South Africa. But the African continent is huge and there are of course other well-known singers like Majek Fashek from Nigeria and newcomers like Takana Zion from Guinea and Selasee from Ghana.
Another reggae artist hailing from Ghana is Rocky Dawuni and just like Selasee he today lives in the U.S. On his sixth and latest album Branches of the Same Tree this humanitarian activist straddles the musical dots connecting Africa, the Caribbean and the U.S. to create a tasty set filled with positive vibes, infectious melodies and catchy grooves.
Included are mainly elements of afrobeat, roots and global pop with sing-along choruses along with influences from funk and samba. The eleven track set features a line-up collecting acclaimed musicians like Michael Franti & Spearhead, Steel Pulse, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals and Ziggy Marley.
The album title reflects global unity and Rocky Dawuni recognizes mankind’s common roots and that we are all branches of the same tree. His inspirational messages of harmony and solidarity are set to solid rhythm tracks and several of the cuts are dance-inducing anthems, for example the irresistible first single African Thriller, the radio-friendly album opener Shine a Light with its syncopated rhythm and a devastatingly funky cover of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh’s iconic Get Up, Stand Up.
But Branches of the Same Tree is not all about fun and dance. It also collects a few more melancholic moments like the acoustic Butterfly and Island Girl, which is a tropical version of song written by Bob Marley, but never formally recorded by the legend.
With Branches of the Same Tree Rocky Dawuni showcases a fresh and varied sound that is easy to fall in love with.