I often think that I have a rather good view of the current European scene, but time after time I find solid albums from artists that I’ve never heard of, even though they have been around for several years.
Canarian reggae singer and devoted surfer Dactah Chando is one of those artists. He started his career in 2009 and dropped his debut album two years later. And a few months ago he put out his fourth set Ansestral.
It’s a great album produced and mixed by Umberto Echo with backing vocals provided by no other than German songstress Sara Lugo. Together they have created an album full of positive vibes with an often relaxed atmosphere.
I Chant offers heavy percussion and nyabinghi influences, while Alto Grado has a dub-infused sonic landscape. Vive sounds like a bouncy Augusts “Gussie” Clarke production from the late 80s and on My Yut Dactah Shando gets in a singjay mode.
Another solid and rootsy set from showcasing the thriving European reggae scene.
Sara Lugo started her career as backing vocalist for German producer and mixing engineer Umberto Echo’s productions. She moved to the spotlight when her breezy debut album What About Love was put out in 2012 and with its superb follow-up Hit Me With Music she cemented her reputation as one of Europe’s finest singers.
In her career she has recorded a number of excellent combinations with a variety of artists ranging from Jamaican stars like Lutan Fyah and Protoje to Indonesian singjay Ras Muhammad and Swiss born chanter Cali P.
These fine efforts are now – together with ten more cuts – collected on the glorious Sara Lugo & Friends, a melodious set with multi-national vibes. It pulls together previously released tracks along with new songs recorded over a variety of riddims, both originals and relicks.
Sara Lugo & Friends is a sultry and soulful album where Sara Lugo’s light, breezy and effortless singing is exquisitely matched with both riddims and collaborators. Stay close to the repeat button.
It seems that crowd-funding in the reggae industry actually works. There has been a few gems in recent years coming from that particular way of financing parts of a recording.
Sara Lugo and her label Oneness Records used Startnext to raise 4,000 euros to finish Hit Me with Music. I didn’t take part of the financing, but all of you who did – give yourselves an applause. Because Hit Me with Music is an excellent album, probably even better than her debut released more than three years ago.
Sara Lugo has an addictive and seductive voice, and she has been in the music business for more than ten years. Her biggest hit yet is probably the Kabaka Pyramid combination High & Windy, on the moody Reggaeville riddim, which is a relick of The Paragons’ Riding on a High and Windy Day. This combination was released in 2012 and is of course included on the new album.
Hit Me with Music is produced by a variety of different talents, for example Anthony “Altafaan” Senior, Umberto Echo, Giuseppe Coppola, Lionel Wharton and Moritz von Korff, and includes guest performances from Protoje, Ras Muhamad and the aforementioned Kabaka Pyramid.
It’s bright and positive from start to finish. Sara Lugo explores the gentle side of reggae with influences from soul, jazz and light electronic pop. Soldiers of Love could have been included on one of Hotel Costes lounge compilations and a singer like Lily Allen could probably have murdered for the breezy I Wish.
The harmonies are beautiful throughout the set and Sara Lugo has made yet another album custom-made for sitting on a Caribbean beach watching the waves gently break.
Germany’s Oneness Records showcase their work on the fresh compilation One Love One Heart Oneness, a set featuring 20 artists murdering 15 bouncy riddims.
Loads of talent is one of the main ingredients, beautiful melodies is another. The well-crafted riddims are built with live instrumentation, including bright horns on a number of cuts.
Highlights include an angry Buju Banton on a clever relick of Inner Circle’s Bad Boys, Naptali & Arofat’s elegant Jail Song and Sara Lugo & Kabaka Pyramid’s version of The Paragons’ Riding on a High and Windy Day.
One Love One Heart Oneness is evidence of a strong and thriving European reggae scene.
German songstress Sara Lugo made a strong impression on Naptali’s debut album Long Journey put out last year.
And the tune And They Cry is also featured on Sara Lugo’s own debut album What About Love, an eclectic album filled with airy jazz arrangements, one drop riddims and R&B and hip-hop beats.
Sara Lugo has a pure and effortless voice with a delicate phrasing. It is a jazzier Alaine or a reggaefied Erykah Badu.
She is an excellent and versatile singer. Just listen when she reaches the high notes in Maybe or when she takes on a singjay approach in One of These Days, a tune with a piano hook reminiscent of hip-hop classic Still D.R.E.
The album has been overseen, and is mostly produced, by German mastermind Umberto Echo and the musicianship is excellent. It is handled with love and affection.
This is an infectious and harmonious album to keep you company on warm summer nights.
Jag stötte på Naptali förra året genom rytmsamlingen Bad Boys. Hans Fire Burn, var tillsammans med låtar från Buju och Burro Banton, plattans starkaste och långt bättre än Inner Circles signaturmelodi. Låtens styrka låg dock huvudsakligen inte hos Naptali, utan i den kompromisslösa produktionen och den upphottade basgången. Men när jag sätter Naptalis debutplatta Long Journey i skivspelaren är jag ändå hoppfull.
Naptali är en duglig sångare. Hans hesa, lite nasala stämma, påminner stundtals om Michael ”Mykal” Rose eller en mindre intensiv Natty King. Men Naptalis sång saknar karaktär. Han gör sitt jobb och sjunger melodin perfekt, dock utan att imponera. Visst, det kan vara skönt att slippa wailande och olika röstkonster, men det blir lite som landsvägskörning – det händer inte mycket och är ganska tråkigt.
Long Journeys styrka ligger i rytmerna och melodierna signerade teamet bakom Oneness Records. Bästa blir det i ovan nämnda Fire Burn, duetten And They Cry och i tokpoppiga The Law Of Attraction, en låt vars refräng etsar sig fast och vägrar försvinna.
Det här är en fullt godkänd debut. Men framöver skulle jag vilja att Naptali tar mer plats och visar vad hans röst kan göra. Det behöver bli mer än rytm och melodi.