On his brand new album The Kingston Session German singer Sebastian Sturm, together with his band Exile Airline, headed to the Jamaican capital and the legendary Harry J studio for its recording sessions.
They locked themselves in the studio for two days and came out with an inspired nine track album recorded live in the studio using only the bare essentials – guitar, bass, drums and keys. The set collects easy-going, organic and stripped-down versions of mostly previously released material, and the only new cut is a version of Freddie McKay’s Free Man.
Sebastian Sturm has a raspy voice and a dramatic, almost theatrical, style with a bit of vibrato. The raspiness is a bit similar to Bob Marley and the drama is reminiscent to how Groundation’s lead vocalist Professor sounds. It works well with the jazzy arrangements and the jam-oriented grooves that the band present on several tracks, especially on the almost nine minute long Free Man.
This is Sebastian Sturm’s fifth album and it was successfully financed via crowdfunding, and I have a feeling his fans and investors will love what they hear.
The German reggae scene has been thriving for years, owing much the success of global reggae/pop phenomenon Gentleman, but also thanks to artists such as Jahcoustix, Patrice and Sebastian Sturm. The two former dropped albums in June and September respectively and now it’s time for Sebastian Sturm and his band Exile Airline to unleash the Jamaican produced set A Grand Day Out.
This 13 track set was recorded in Germany together with Stephen Stewart and Sam Clayton Jr and then mixed in Kingston by the same duo. The result shows a more reggae-oriented Sturm. The rock influences on Get Up & Going from 2011 are traded for a more pop-concerned approach with traces of both ska and soul. His love for Bob Marley-styled tonality and phrasing is however intact.
This is not a roots reggae album. Not by a far. It’s actually rather lightweight, but the melodies are infectiously catchy and I find myself both nodding my head and stomping my feet, especially to the rocking and well-arranged Sand in Their Machinery.
On Sebastian Sturm’s third album Get Up & Going he has parted ways with both his former producer and band. This hasn’t lead to any dramatic shifts in direction though. He is still firmly rooted in reggae from the 70’s together with his new outfit Exile Airline.
Sebastian Sturm’s vocal style bears resemblance to royalty such as Bob Marley and Horace Andy. He has the former’s rugged, fragile style, while also incorporating the latter’s nasal tone. However, without Horace Andy’s distinct vibrato.
But there is also something else with the singing style of Sebastian Sturm. It sometimes seems like he isn’t singing. The story and the lyrics are more essential than the singing itself. It’s a bit theatrical and it sometimes sounds like he is singing in a children’s story.
Get Up & Going collects twelve tunes in the reggae vein, but with apparent rock influences. These are most apparent in Responsibility where the guitars are in the frontline and on Movin’ Away with chords similar to Nirvana.
Highlights include Upside Down with a nice melodica intro and the skanking Don’t Look Back, even though it would have been even better without the guitar solo.