U.S. reggae singer songwriter Cas Haley’s new album More Music More Family is insanely catchy and uplifting. The album was crowdfunded and I’m very glad fans across the globe helped him to record this beautiful album.
More Music More Family is a personal effort and addresses what life has taught Cas Haley, who has returned to music after an injury which caused an unfortunate hiatus. The album has an organic live-played vibe and draws influences from reggae, soul, blues, hip-hop and gospel.
The set was recorded in Hawaii and it’s marked by the tranquillity and easy-going life on the island. Songs like album opening title track and the following Whole, featuring co-producer Tubby Love on vocals, and Man Inside are the essence of island life and you can almost hear the beach, the sun and the waves floating through the airwaves.
On tracks like the sweet Hold Me, the repetitive We Learn and slowly pulsating Hold Up My Heart, which has a bass line reminiscent of the mighty Pass the Kouchie, things get a bit rootiser, while Cas Haley offers a taste of soul on the funky Before It’s Too Late, which suddenly turns into a bona-fide gospel party.
Sure, some people might dismiss this magnificent set as too lightweight, but for me it’s all about pressing the repeat button again, again and again.
Looking for the perfect reggae/pop crossover album? Then I’ve a suggestion for you – Cas Haley’s recently released third album La Si Dah. This 13 track album is a bona fide scorcher in terms of soulful, bluesy pop with clear reggae influences.
Cas Haley is a U.S. singer/songwriter based in Texas and has one of the most powerful voices on the U.S. reggae scene. His style is honest, poignant and unpretentious and his music is diverse and easy-going with lots of memorable melodies and hooks. When I played this album for my wife a while ago she immediately started singing along without having heard a single note from the album or Cas Haley before.
La Si Dah was produced by the singer himself with a little help from Grammy-Award winning producer and engineer Rob Fraboni, who has worked with Bob Dylan, The Eagles, Keith Richards and The Rolling Stones. All the instruments and most of the vocals were recorded in the same room at the same time with no isolation and no headphones, which has given the album an intimate and organic atmosphere.
Even though this is far from a conventional reggae album there are at least four songs that can labeled as reggae – the sing-a-long friendly Mama, the breezy Crazy Good Woman, the dubby Slow Down and the nyabinghi-drum inflected Tally Tally.
Included are also a cover of 80’s British pop band The Smiths’ popular How Soon Is Now and three instrumentals leaning heavily towards blues.
The album was financed through crowd-sourcing site PledgeMusic and without Cas Haley’s fans this album might not have seen the day of light, which had would been a real pity. Because as for catchy crossover reggae – this album is as good as it gets.
About two years ago I noticed that American band Easy Star All-Stars topped the Billboard reggae list with their reworked version of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band titled Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band. I remember I was a bit surprised since I hadn’t heard them before.
Now Easy Star All-Stars have managed to put out an album based on their own material.
First Light consists of 14 tunes (16 on the digital version). The vocal duties are nicely shared by Kirsty Rock and Ras I Ray, and give the album a good blend of male and female singing.
Easy Star All-Stars are probably best known for their reinventions of other albums, and this time they have to stand on their own feet. And the result is an album that lacks edge, but certainly has its moments.
Especially the pulsating ganja tune One Likkle Draw with guest artists Junior Jazz and Daddy Lion Chandell and the 60’s flavored Unbelievable featuring singer/guitarist and America’s Got Talent contestant Cas Haley.
But First Light lacks in diversity and it’s too courteous and kind. It is just too easy.