Tag Archives: Free Expressions

Better Tomorrow includes Etana’s finest work yet

1950_ETANA-BETTERJamaican soulful singer Etana is about to put out her third album Better Tomorrow, a 14 track set mainly produced by Busy Signal’s manager Shane C. Brown. Working with mostly one sole producer gives the album a certain and very welcome cohesiveness, something her second album Free Expressions lacked.

Better Tomorrow is a warm effort where Etana has matured and evolved as a songwriter and she deals with motherhood, unconditional love and hopelessness offering optimism and comfort in times of struggle, distress and poverty.

Her sincere and soulful singing is sublime and especially heartfelt is Till You Get Old (Life’s Gift), dedicated to her newborn daughter and complete with audio clips from an actual birth set to the tones of piano, percussion and guitar. Being a parent myself, the track sends shivers down my spine.

But you don’t have to be a parent to appreciate this album. It has a little something for everyone, while staying almost true to the reggae format. On Whole New World she takes the listener on a 80’s funky trip and the title track leans toward a latin beat, while tracks such as The Strongest and the beautiful first single Reggae are more roots oriented with dub effects and smooth organ work.

Better Tomorrow sticks like glue and includes some of Etana’s finest work yet. Check it on CD and on digital platforms on 26 February.

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Etana offers a mixed bag on Free Expressions

On Etana’s sophomore album Free Expressions she shows a more mature side of herself. She has managed to pen 12 of the 14 tunes and has also collaborated with a variety of producers, including lovers rock specialist Kemar “Flava” McGregor and Curtis Lynch, a producer that shows a new, more melodic side of himself this time.

Free Expressions includes several previously released tunes, such as Mockingbird, Happy Heart, August Town, Heart Broken and I Know You Love Me. And those are some of the best tunes. Other highlights include the gospel-tinged I Got You produced by talented duo Alborosie & Specialist, and War, with an opening guitar hook very similar to Max Romeo’s classic Chase the Devil. On War Etana also delivers with furious energy.

Sadly, there are some dull moments too. It’s tough to cope with My Name Is – a song that certainly has hit potential, but not my kind of music with its synthesizer effects similar to Jon & Vangelis I’ll Find My Way Home and a chorus that echoes from It’s Gonna Be Me by 90’s boy band ‘N Sync.

I’m not over excited about the intense and schizophrenic Venting either. It’s just too much instruments and vocals that fight for my attention.

The album is a fusion of reggae, lovers rock, pop and neo-soul and Etana’s singing sometimes resembles the voice of Alicia Keys. If you like your reggae soul styled and heavenly melodic – then this is a must have.

Free Expressions hit the shelves on February 8.

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Etana expresses herself freely

Reggae singer and songwriter Etana is set to drop her sophomore album Free Expressions in early February. The album has been preceded by strong singles such as Mockingbird, August Town and Heart Broken. Reggaemani got a chat with her from her home island of Jamaica.

Etana started her musical career in female vocal group Gift in 2000. But she soon left the outfit because she didn’t like the widespread stereotyping of female artists.  Now she is doing music on her own terms instead.

“It’s a major difference now when I can decide everything for myself. I can do things my way and record what I want. I’m being able to express myself. It’s a natural vibe, natural energy”, says Etana on the phone from Jamaica.

Some years after she had left the group a friend introduced her to singer Richie Spice’s former management Fifth Element Records and she agreed to follow him on tour as a backup vocalist.

The label obviously recognized her huge talent and managed to persuade her to record the single Wrong Address, a single that was rewarded with heavy radio rotation and also climbed to number 1 on several Jamaican charts.

In 2008 she dropped her debut album The Strong One to wide critical acclaim, partly due to hit songs such as I’m Not Afraid on Kemar “Flava” McGregor’s wicked Rub-a-Dub riddim and Alborosie duet Blessings.

On her new album Free Expressions she has continued working with Flava McGregor and Alborosie. But she has also invited UK master producer Curtis Lynch for some tough tunes.

“The label recommended me to work with Curtis Lynch, so he flew to Jamaica and we met at Gussie Clarke’s studio. The chemistry was great and all the songs came out just like that. I think the first song we recorded was Move On, then Heart Broken and last August Town. It was a good connection”, says Etana.

She says that the new album was produced a little differently from the first. Most of the sessions were less planned which has given the album more of a free vibe. On Free Expressions Etana has also written most of the material herself, something that might also have had an effect on the different vibe during recording.

 “It feels good to do most things by myself and VP never gives me a hard time production wise or video wise. I’m very excited that I’ve come up with an entire album”.

She explains that the new album is more reggae compared to The Strong One and that the debut was more of an introduction to her music.

Free Expressions hit the streets on February 8th and then she will go on tour to the U.S. and Europe.

“I’ll probably start touring in America and then spend much time in Europe and the UK”, she says and reveals her hopes on Free Expressions:

“I hope it will take me to the next level and that it will make me continue to grow. Everything is possible and you never know where it’s going to go”.

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