Monday, May 28, 2012

'Forward!': A review of "Deeper Roots" by Lymie Murray

There are so many wonderful people in and around this wonderful music, actually doing the work, that it's always so nice and extra special when one of them, who surely does not get the credit that he/she deserves does get the proper respect and a fitting showcase of their talents. I look at so many different artists in so many different situations and definitely the most common set, obviously, is the younger name who comes up and attracts an amount of attention and this eventually leads to things such as big shows, tours and albums, but there's another group of people whose presence has meant more to the music and who have some semblance of longevity who also are seemingly forging their own ways, which is quite new and current. Today, the greatest example of this, in my opinion, would be someone such as Mark Wonder. A very good case could be made that the divinely gifted vocalist, at this, an extremely advanced stage of an already sterling career, is just now entering his prime years of efficacy! Having spent recent years doing work on an even higher level and receiving such a vast amount (and diverse amount) of praises from around the globe, the singer now seems poised to join the ranks of some of the more in demand Roots Reggae artists of the time and to me, THAT'S WONDERFUL! I'd also look at someone such as a  Singing Melody who attracted a great deal of interest with his album from earlier in the year, "They Call Me Mr. Melody" (interesting who featured on that album, hmmm). Melody, of course, is someone who has enjoyed a great deal of popularity in his extensive career, but he's never seemed to have gotten in the manner that has been apparent surrounding his latest release, which is excellent. In past recent years, we've also seen such conditions arrive for artists like Daddy Rings (biggup Gentleman), Prince Malachi and others - all of whom, at a more progressed point in their respective musical lives, have attained an arguably previously unseen level or platform for their music and have done so through the means of an album. Well, hopefully we're about to add another name to that list as VETERAN singer and Reggae fixture, Lymie Murray may have just checked in with his most high profile set to date and it is not to be missed.

"Start All Over" [2000]

While the name Lymie Murray may not be a household one in even more hardcore Reggae circles, he's certainly very much someone who has paid his dues in various aspects in the music and, thus, he would ostensibly qualify as an artist who would hopefully receive this type of attention that I'm speaking of. The singer has been plying his trade, in some form or another, for nearly twenty years at this point and has become a staple on the scene, but I don't feel that he's TRULY been shown the respect that you would think would be given to someone of his considerable talents. He's released multiple albums as well (by my count, this new album would be his fourth) and I would wish you luck in finding a hardcopy of any of the older ones at this point. And I say all of this, but I don't want to make it seem as if NO ONE has shown Murray any love, but . . . DAMN, listen to that man sing, listen to the way he writes his lyrics and you just come away with the feeling that there's so much special to be heard in his case. 

Fortunately I'm not the only one who thinks that as the boys and girls at I Dwell Records have also obviously heard exactly what I'm talking about and they linked Lymie Murray for a full album which they now submit for your approval, "Deeper Roots". Okay, the thing about this album is that I'm almost certain that it originally dropped two or maybe even three years back because I definitely recall hearing about it and I even recall reading an article about Murray presenting the album which (I actually found again recently) had what turned out to be an accurate partial tracklist from some of the songs on "Deeper Roots", but I'd never seen it or heard it full on. My thought would be that it did reach back then (although the back of the cover does designate this as an official 2012 release), in some form or another, maybe even as an EP, but now I Dwell presents it as a full project for a worldwide consumption and hopefully it manages to resonate with as many fans as strongly as it does for me. The initial attraction for this project is that Murray is an artist whom you'll typically find doing more Lover's Rock and while he does mix in some social/spiritual Roots Reggae into his music, I think that most who know of his work would call him at least predominately a Lover's Rock singer and that's where he's made his name - but now he's mixed things up. If you go back and vibe some of those earlier albums such as "Start All Over" and "Only Conversations" (which were quite similar), you'll hear that the type of work was largely romantic type of love songs and that's not surprising when you consider that Murray once sailed on the Big Ship alongside its legendary captain, Freddie McGregor. While you will find Lover's Rock on the deck (did you catch that???) of this one, "Deeper Roots" is, as its title would suggest . . . deeper Roots Reggae music than you're accustomed to hearing from the singer. Call that a plan of Murray's if you like (and I'm sure you'd be precise in that assumption), but credit also has to go to the Roots HEAVY I Dwell Records who is well experiencing a HUGE 2012 with big releases in coming from Toussaint The Liberator ["Where I Lead"] and the full releasing of the Fyah Fureal Riddim (more on that later). They've also popped up recently with a few digital singles from the likes of Capleton ['Hunting For My Soul', big tune] and Khari Kill, so they've been doing the work and apparently it's brought them the idea to FINALLY push up Lymie Murray's album on a bigger scale. It certainly did take long enough, but it proves to have been worth the wait. Let's have a listen. 

When at its best, Lymie Murray's voice is truly something to hear. It is this somewhat light, yet firm, and crystal clear and while it is a voice very much 'MADE' for singing Lover's Rock music (he almost sounds like a more normal Chezidek at times), here he so wonderfully uses to it sing music for His Majesty. And getting things started, for the second review in a row, is the best song on the album as at the head (literally and in terms of quality) of Lymie Murray's brand of "Deeper Roots" is the well upful 'Wake Up'. The first song on an album definitely has a certain responsibility to ignite the audiences to . . . want to listen to the remainder of the record and to really just have that type of gripping vibes to it and 'Wake Up' has all of that and some to spare. The song is one really just telling the masses to begin to take a notice of everything and everyone surrounding them and to really just STEP UP how they interact with and contribute to the betterment of the world (yes, it's about all of that). 

“Wake up, wake up, wake up
Hey children -
Get up, get up, get up
Live up, live up, live up
Now people -
Stand up, stand up, stand up

Hey, don’t let babylon get you caught up inna dem confusion
Don’t you desire to be like dem
And don’t like sadden get you over yourself
Know that you’ve got to stay your course
Discontent is a monster, I’m ah telling you
No easy way around!
The people living with this real frustration -
Pon dis lava ground”

Biggup I Wayne.  It's an excellent track from beginning to end which makes you well want to hear what is to follow. What is to follow is a song with which I'm slightly familiar, 'Bad Mind People'. I think this tune may've been booked as a single for this album because I remembered it from the first time I heard the chorus on the song. It's pretty simple - just a tune about staying away from and keeping from actually becoming one yourself - but it's a very catchy vibes as well and one of the more so on the whole of the album. So there's no surprise as to why it was the single if it really was. And wrapping up the opening lot of songs on "Deeper Roots" is the SWEET old school vibed 'Rooster', another of the signature selections for the album. There's just so much to like about this one. It is one of the most sonically pleasing pieces here and the message is top as well. If you wanted to call it THE best on the album, you wouldn't get too much of an argument from me (even though you'd be wrong, that's your problem) (I have my own issues, dammit).

'Badmind People'

"Deeper Roots" features a couple of DEEP combinations in its twelve tracks with a pair of individuals whose mere presence made me smile! Both are just really good ideas! The first, 'Earth Cry' features Lymie Murray alongside hot and cold BLAZING (how can you be all three of them? I don't know, but he is) chanter, Spectacular. Spectacular may just be one of the most gifted artists around today, but he struggles mightily, at least in my opinion, with his consistency. Here, there's no problem, he's in a fine form joining Murray for the sublime social commentary. The other artist making a guest spot on the album is the aforementioned Mark Wonder who is around to help celebrate 'Suzie's Birthday Party'. This song has kind of a FUNKY vibes around it and it's more on the lover's side, but not quite. In any respect, it's a pretty good song, but I'd love these two to link again for a huge Roots set. And while, as I said, "Deeper Roots" is far more on the Roots Reggae side than his previous efforts, the singer doesn't completely the Lover's Rock arena and it isn't totally bereft (LOVING that word these days) of love song. The other track in that spectrum is 'Love to Love You'. I do feel a lot of love around this one, but I don't LOVE this song, yet there it does have a nice sound to it and I can imagine more longtime fans of the singer will surely appreciate its presence. 

'Milk & Honey'

The balance of the album would definitely qualify as "Deeper Roots" Reggae in some form or another. The best of the remaining selections, to my opinion, is a trio of big tunes which add so much to the experience of listening to this record. First up is the big 'Captive' which is a social commentary speaking on just how restrictive oppressive society has gotten, particularly to younger people. As this tune progresses it gets REALLY entertaining with the ending being largely bereft (told you!) of major lyrics and just a complete enjoyment of that HEAVY riddim. Next (in making my point and actually next on the album) is 'Cool It Down' which is a vibe just telling certain 'watchers' of civilization to ease back their attitude just a bit. It also appears to be perhaps a story of something that may have happened to Murray, personally, or just a story in general - big in either format. And you REALLY have to check the tune 'Marcus' also which, as you should expect, gives honour and praise to The Most Honourable Marcus Mosiah Garvey. This one is partially biographical on its subject, but it also talks about how Garvey's principals and what happened to him are still very pertinent and prevalent today. I LOVE songs like this which can provoke that type of often intense thought and that's unerringly what happens for me in this case. I'm also going to add the song 'Milk & Honey' to this batch because (I kept listening to it and it grew on me) it's another big offering as well. 

“Come a, come away with me
To a place where there’s lots of milk and lots of honey
You come a, come away with me
Let me teach you of the words of His Imperial Majesty
Come a, come away with me 
And see what you’ve been missing 

Ites! Gold and Green!
That’s the way that I ah represent The King
Hey do you know where I’ve been?
Talkin bout di place down inna Shashamane 
Red! Gold and Green!
Hit you with the mood, it’s a state of being
Hey did you bring the seeds?
Plant them today” 

Murray has apparently found the route to the land of milk and honey and he's planning on leaving soon and I'm going with him. The vehicle he's using on that journey is the aforementioned Fyah Fureal Riddim. And "Deeper Roots" comes to its conclusion with a pair of very solid tunes, 'Brother's Keeper' and 'Troubles I See'. The former is really strong and if I wasn't sleepy, I'd probably go back and include it in the previous group. Like 'Marcus' it very much has an old school R&B feeling to it (at least at the beginning) and Murray uses this to push a message which, essentially, says for people to look after one another. You don't have to actually LIKE one another all of the time, but just mind your fellow man and woman when they need a hand. The closer is another SOLID piece where Murray chimes in on things that he feels need improving in the world. This isn't my favourite song, but I can really see it growing on me to some degree, so if you hear it and have a bit of a lukewarm feeling (and I do like it more now than when I very first heard it), definitely give it a few more spins before casting a final judgment. 

Lymie Murray
Overall, partially because of how much big work I Dwell Records seems to be focused on doing this year and partially just because he's wicked - this album should generate a nice bit of response and that would be just a wonderful thing to have for someone like Lymie Murray. He is one of those people who you may not realize, but has done so much for so many different people and in doing things behind the scenes, that you really wish for him to have such a breakout that this album could provide. Also there's the matter that "Deeper Roots" is just GOOD! It's a really good album, so should that light get shone upon it and Limey Murray, the quality of the project is well intact and ready for the coming eyes and ears. "Deeper Roots" proves to be a very solid set from an artist in Limey Murray whose time in the music has made him one finely tuned artist worthy of our respect and admiration. Well done. 

Rated: 4/5
I Dwell Records
CD + Digital 

Review # 361

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