This new album from eight-piece Dublin reggae band After the Ibis is an unexpected pleasure: the strong and confident songs, the production values and the mature feel of both the instrumentation and the vocals make for a striking debut album. After the Ibis have played alongside some key reggae names including Toots and the Maytals, Max Romeo, Third World, the Tosh/Marley Band, The Skatalites and Junior Marvin so maybe that has somehow rubbed off. The ten tracks of ‘Busy Waiting’ are of a relatively even tempo, with something of an overall melancholy feel. The lyrics are thoughtful and the sound is crystal clear throughout.

As for specifics, the title track is melodic and simple, while ‘Dig Up’ (the initial single release from the album) is a quietly angry take on the world – a surprising (but brave) choice for a single release, given that it is not exactly upbeat happy clappy reggae. The live track included here – ‘Busy Dubbing’ – has an excellent mix and production, full of echo and the spirit of the original dub era. ‘Fallen Soldier’ has a lead guitar sound straight from rock, and inevitably invites comparison with ‘Zombie’ (both thematically and in terms of its arresting vocal delivery). There’s some nice percussive keyboard (as on ‘Room is on Fire’) from the old reggae tradition, while ‘Light My Fuse’ is a soulful and sweet song to complement the other tracks here. This all makes for a powerful debut release indeed.

After the Ibis: ‘Busy Waiting’. Digital release May 2014; CD June

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