I’ve just had my first encounter with Hawaiian six piece band The Green. They’re part of the burgeoning U.S. reggae scene with successful bands such as Groundation, Easy Star All-Stars, Soja, Rebelution and John Brown’s Body. And Midnite of course. Even though they represent the Virgin Islands.
Their third album Hawai’I ’13 was recently released and it went straight to the top of the Billboard Reggae Chart and #77 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart.
And when listening to the 15 track set it’s easy to understand way. It’s easy accessible and just as appealing as a big scoop of chocolate ice cream on a hot and sunny day.
Some will probably dismiss this album and its fusion of reggae, pop and soul, with a slight touch of rock, as lightweight pop reggae. Well, yes, it is slick and it is as polished as a Wall Street bankers shoes, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Hawai’I ’13 is jam-packed with infectious melodies, skanking grooves, memorable hooks, beautiful four part harmonizing and sing-a-long choruses.
It can be a bit slick and sugary though. The piano ballad Chocolates & Roses is one such example. Luckily enough there are a number of standout tracks that will keep you interested – Good One and Something About It are two such examples.
Hawai’I ’13 is a positive album from start to finish and it sounds like a warm breeze on a beautiful beach. This is good times with a capital G.
Some gems are harder to find than others. Or maybe I’m just not always doing my homework properly. Because U.S. singer Sahra Indio’s third album The Tru I has been reviewed on United Reggae and she has also shared disc with well-known artists such as Lutan Fyah, The Itals and I Octane on the compilation Dread & Alive: The Lost Tapes Volume 1. But for some reason I missed out on this wonderful singer.
Sahra “Bush Mama” Indio has a deep, soothing and breezy voice and sings – sometimes with a flow reminiscent of rapping or singjaying – with a strong American accent. She moved from the U.S. mainland to Hawaii about 30 years ago and today she lives an off-grid lifestyle on the countryside. She has been in the music business for almost 20 years and her debut album was put out in 2003. Four years later it was time for its follow-up Change, a set partly produced by Tuff Lion, master guitarist and former member of Bambú Station.
On The Tru I she has teamed up with producers from the U.S., Jamaica and Europe, including Italy, Austria, the UK and France. This has given the album something of a split impression, since there are some rootsy efforts, some tracks with a clear pop crossover feeling and some cuts with a heavyweight and atmospheric dub edge.
But in the end it all makes sense, partly thanks to the strong riddims, partly thanks to Sahra Indio’s relevant lyrics about conscious living and uplifting, confident singing, which is a joy from start to finish.