Following their 2012 debut with ‘Rocket!’ this new album from five-piece British reggae-dub-rock outfit Tree House Fire extends their range and reinforces their growing reputation. Having played alongside The Skints (see reggaemusic.org.uk 27 March 2013), Sonic Boom Six (who offer guest vocals on this new release), Jaya the Cat, New Town Kings, Random Hand and New York ska masters The Toasters, Tree House Fire have also made a number of high-profile festival appearances including RedFest and the UK’s largest reggae and ska festival, Boomtown Fair.
The fourteen tracks here exhibit several distinct influences. Together these add up to an album of strong reggae songs in differing styles. There’s an upbeat feel on tracks like ‘Hold on Tight’ and ‘Every Cloud’, joyfully reminiscent of 2 Tone, fast-paced and made to be played live. Things initially get a bit Latin on ‘Tiempo’, while ‘Battlefield’ is a good straightahead reggae tune. There is a powerful rock guitar riff underpinning ‘Beard Trimmer Dub’ with added dubby touches here and there as might be expected from the title. ‘Mr Aggressor’ features assertive hip-hop influenced vocals. ‘Dutty Girl’ is a strong track and maybe a suitable single choice: melodic and vocally strong, with a change of tempo and instrumental feel toward the end which adds to the effectiveness of the song.
There’s an impression that, as the album progresses, a more serious lyrical intent can be found on songs such as ‘Pause and Rewind’ and ‘Gone are the Days’, perhaps indicating one of the possible directions in which Tree House Fire will go next. But, for now, the band present a rich and confident collection of songs that can be enjoyed in their own terms for what they are – good contemporary reggae, aware of its inspiration and its musical strengths.
Tree House Fire: ‘Actions and Reactions’ released 4th August 2014 on Jamtown Recordings