Sunday, 7 June 2009
MUSIC SPOTLIGHT: Julian Marley's Awake
WITH his father’s legacy as an easily accessible blueprint and the vast success of his brothers as inspiration and motivation, Julian Marley is making his presence felt as an ambitious solo artiste in his own right. To this end, his recently-released third album, Awake (Tuff Gong), offers an impressive collection of 16 tracks that walk the line between conscious reggae and rootsy dancehall, while speaking to key issues (crime, human relationships, romance, spirituality) that matter to all of us.
Never mind the uncanny similarities in sound, mood and context to recent and past releases from other members of the Marley clan; the 34-year-old artiste seeks to provide listeners with a unique take on life, livity and the right way forward. But like his legendary dad and Grammy-winning siblings, he uses his music to encourage us to move to higher ground. The end result is a record of well-written and stylishly produced songs that you can ponder and relax to. Like the artiste’s laid-back personality, the songs can best be described as laid-back and introspective anthems to be slowly savoured. There is no rush.
He opens the album with the call-to-action title track, setting the tone for a set of message-inclined songs. At its best, Awake pulls listeners in with such repeat-worthy cuts as “Rose Hall”, “Stay With Me” and “On The Floor”. His collaborators, too, are effective contributors, doing their best to help push the album into the realm of excellence. Damian Marley adds his magical touch to “Violence”; Stephen Marley lends his bounce to “Little Too Late” while rapper Mr. Cheeks brings a flash of lyrical brilliance to “Oh Girl”.
Other genuine highlights on Awake include the harmonious Bob Marley-esque “Sharp As A Razor”, the dancehall-leaning “Boom Draw”, the uplifting gem “Trying” and the challenging album closer “Things Ain’t Cool”. With lustre, passion and careful thought, Julian Marley successfully makes a bid for the attention he so rightfully deserves in a reggae arena where only the best get noticed. Like Buju Banton’s Rasta Got Soul, Awake smoothly fuses reggae and dancehall with a rock-solid mix of R&B and soul for an impressive, coherent and refreshing release that reggae-soul lovers will value.
Tyrone’s Verdict: B+
DOWNLOAD: “Sharp As A Razor”, “Rose Hall”, “On The Floor” and “Little Too Late”