Blindman: See with Your Heart

a1074565984_16From Morristown, New Jersey, here comes Blindman (AKA Derek Gazal) with a new album entitled ‘See with Your Heart’. The album features Rica Newell (Stephen Marley, the Melody Makers, Dennis Brown, the Black Crowes) and Mike Adamo (Breakbeat Bible). The musical styles on the seven (plus two bonus) tracks herein are mightily varied, from the full-on roots reggae of ‘Irie Soul Uprising’ to a rock guitar sound bursting to get through on a track such as ‘Woman of My Dreams’. The slow deliberative bass of ‘Lonely Road’ (and for that matter ‘No Babylon’) will definitely give your speakers something to think about.

‘Feels Good’ features an authentic reggae sound with effective percussion mixed up-front and was released as a single last year. It is about the uplifting and powerful effect of love, and was inspired by the death of Blindman’s own grandfather. Profits from the track were earmarked for those who have experienced hardship following the death of a loved one. Blindman himself is the founding member of St Joseph’s Outreach, a charity aimed at building faith within local communities.

Blindman has been working on the album for two years, wrote all the tracks, and is executive producer overall. The result is a great contemporary reggae release and the sentiments behind the songs show that music can truly have heart as well as soul.

Blindman: See with Your Heart, released 14th April 2017, available via Bandcamp.

King Porter Stomp: Way Back

King Porter Stomp’s releases have been reviewed on these pages before, and now Brighton’s own are back with a new ten-track LP and third studio album entitled ‘Way Back’. The album embodies the band’s multiple influences, in particular roots reggae, hip-hop and soul/funk. Once again produced by Prince Fatty (Mike Pelanconi) the album displays the diversity of styles that define this band.

Vocals are courtesy of Arif Najak and Moses Yuchetel on several tracks while MC Jonezy makes his presence felt in an understated way. The album has been four years in the making and features some tracks that will already be familiar to followers of the band, including ‘Warning’, a heavyweight reggae sound (see reggaemusic.org.uk November 2014). ‘Way Back’ and ‘Pedestals’ are strong and lively reggae-hip-hop while ‘All Night’ has the kind of wah-wah rhythm intro that makes you expect Isaac Hayes to appear in the doorway. ‘Rise Up’ and ‘Put Down Your Weapons’ are fine reggae tracks, the latter having already been released as a single (see reggaemusic.org.uk December 2015)

King Porter Stomp has a few gigs lined up in the South of England during April, and they are also due to play Glastonbury this year. So there is the chance to hear them live in the near future – which is surely how this band should be heard.

King Porter Stomp ‘Way Back’ released 10th April 2017

Earl Sixteen featuring Amelia Harmony: Mamma

image003Amelia Harmony is a dub/reggae artist from the UK East Midlands who has released this sweet and melodic track on her own record label called ‘Soulshine Musik’. The song is, in Amelia’s words “all about mothers and the struggles they go through sometimes and the fact that they still remain strong”.

Growing up in children’s homes she was influenced by many different cultures and turned these influences into singing and songwriting, working alongside various bands producing her own material. Moving to Brighton, she (literally) found her voice and made a mark on the UK Garage charts. Back in Derby, Amelia became part of a reggae band called ‘Origin’ which had a major influence on her future music, including major involvement in production and sound systems alongside fellow artists, subsequently working with producers in dub/roots/reggae including I-niverse, Murray Man Mellow Vibes, Mark Mostec, King Earthquake, Dougie Conscious, Masaai Warrior, Unrulee Records, Eastern Vibration and Earth Works.

The video for ‘Mamma’ was released, appropriately enough, on Mothers’ Day, for subsequent release as a single. It’s a simple sparkling reggae sound, Earl Sixteen vocals leading the way with an almost Marley feel and a dub production on the point of breaking through as the track progresses. It’s not fussing or fighting, nor cynical, simply reminding us that – as a great man once said – one good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain.

Earl Sixteen featuring Amelia Harmony ‘Mamma’ released 2/5/17 on Soulshine Musik, 7” vinyl and digital download.