California has, is and will be a region brimming with Reggae artistes and destination for many tours. Numerous elements showcased from North to South. Foundation statesmen like Fully Fullwood, Tony Chin, Haile Maskel, Lesterfari and Shakaman continue to make solid impact after decades in Southern California. New generation bands like Tribal Seeds thrive in San Diego. In the North, veterans like Earl Zero, Red Lions (Burton Eubank/Jeremy Grey), Ras Biblical raise Fyah levels alongside new Roots units like HIGHEST INTENTION. Their debut, “UNIVERSAL LIGHT” hits stride with a collective of well experienced souljahs….
Singer/guitarist Ben ”Down” Lowe founded the band in 2012 with heavy credentials. He’s produced Reggae formats for ABC, MTV and Bravo. The group has made solid impact up and down The West Coast and have shared the stage with countless Reggae greats. Ben and crew cut no corners with their solid debut. Guest musicians like Raleigh Neal (Michael Franti), Toho Saunders (Don Carlos, President Brown..many more) anchors heavy bass. Paul Wolstencroft (Slighty Stoopid), producer Ces-One (J Boog) and mix maestro Aaron Dahl rally together. Couldn’t find additional musician info but cd sleeve makes honorable mention to such greats as bassie Herb Daly (The Rastafarians), Nicho De Silva (Irie Magazine) and longtime ambassador Eli Alaimo (Music Box) displays the true Love and Respect the band has attained. A bright future in store for these committed Souljahs.
“Morning Light” sets a Roots tone with vox from Arise Roots(one of the premier CA Rootz bands) frontman Karim Isreal. This is tradition and progression in Rightful balance. Karim exalts positivity over a detonating riddim with vivid horns, crucial licks and kicks and Toho’s lilting bass. Superb production with a crisp edge. “Fat One” is a bubbling great flow. Ben has a soulful delivery and heartically celebrates Chalice wise. Herb anthems have saturated the market but the lasting lyrics observe the abundantly green Bay Area runnings with original urgency. “Ocean” shines with a horns rich musical backbone and an Ital message presented with perfect simplicity. Standout selection !!
“Vibes” has radio ready aspects; showcasing “Cali-Reggae” Roots and branches. The listener can’t help but absorb the obvious joy that took place during studio sessions. Big guitar licks and drum rolls on course. “Riverside” is a brilliant ride! Ben’s experience producing music for a large scale television audience is translated nicely here. Thought provoking lyrics born with infectious riddim back and crisp yet Dub flecks sprinkled through and through..boom!! The levels are lifting on “Dive In”. Ben’s Singjay flow is spot on with the refreshing talent of Empress Lindsay Stubblefield. Taut riddim with Jazzy overtones and international appeal on the wyah. A Joyful anthem bound to please.
FINGER ON REWIND
“Escape” continues the positive atmosphere. Over a tight riddim recalling great ‘80’s Kingston sessions, Ben turns up the vibes factor. Remarkable mix and production. Each instrument presented just right with a Dub outlook on Scientist caliber qualities. “Sky” is a ethereal Love ode that bridges tradition with surging progression. Ben’s hearty vox float over a bed of riddimatic roses. Finger on rewind! The title track is one that shines with universal message. The band’s observations are mystic and pertinent. Crucial wah wah and country licks correspond over the Dub laden riddim like Fyah fly. Quality in all aspects. “Hold Your Own Love” is masterclass ability. This is professional Reggae music. The arrangements possess a Third World quality; recalls the timeless anthems the late, great Bunny Rugs and “Cat” Coore created. Amazing horn section; bubbling is hotta; bass will cripple the hips. From lyrics to riddim, this song Fyahs on all cylinders.
TASTY AXE WORK
“Binghi” is Hearty tempo for sure. Niyabinghi frequency with flute and organ…a solid interlude…. “Reggae Paradise” continues the quality songwriting, musician manship and journeyman mixing theory. The ability to incorporate nuances of other genres is commendable. This great album closes with “Time So Slow”. An impeccably crafted offering indeed! The spread is laid out on this table! Meditative in message; active on the riddim. Solid structure with reinforcements of drum and bass accordance, deep “organ”-izing and tasty axe work. Rewind again.