"A New Day" by Jah Marnyah [Faya Wurks Records - 2012]
Today we're going to take a look and listen back to an album which now interests me in two significant ways in which it didn't initially. Still, back then it did have a great interest as I had, by the time it reached, found myself specifically waiting for the record for the better part of a couple of years and having had even more experience, looking back, with this artist, an album was something he was clearly working towards. But these days, I really look back at what it was and I'm more impressed today than I was three months ago, which is saying a great deal for an album I reviewed at a 4.5/5. On top of that, I don't think that it would ultimately get the respect that it deserved. While the chanter wasn't/isn't the biggest of names, he certainly has a very well earned reputation and I'd love to see this set do well, if it hasn't already. Today we go back and REWIND! "A New Day" by Jah Marnyah.
#1. 'All Is Not Lost'
All is not lost
Let Jah be your boss
All is not lost
Jah be your boss
All is not lost
Jah di shepherd fi di fold
Di meek and di humble, di young and di old
My guiding star, Emmanuel, save our soul -
From these desperate times, from this desolate world
Try make a hustle, man need some billfold
Gots to be brave, Rasta gots to be bold
Claim seh dem will help you, find out dem ice cold
Well look yah now, dem betta go purge dem soul"
Out of what has to be several thousands at this point, the opening selection of "A New Day", 'All Is Not Lost', actually contains a pair of what I feel are the signature verses from anyone in 2012 thus far. The song is one brilliant piece of spiritually helmed social commentary and definitely has developed into one of the album's signature moments and one of the finest tracks Jah Marnyah has ever done.
#2. 'Peace & Harmony'
Speaking of "signature moments" you can add to that list from this album its second tune as well, 'Peace & Harmony'. which is… again just a brilliantly written tune. This song also has going for it the fact that its sonics are just delightful which, at least presumably, would make it very accessible and a likely choice to be a single from the album and I think it would do quite well.
#3. 'A New Day'
TEARS! Dub Akom's sweet Bonafide Riddim underpins the album's title track and it is a tune which I well had a healthy appreciation for when I first heard it, but these days that admiration has skyrocketed to say the least. This piece is MASSIVE! And I'm digging now so deeply into the lyrics and what I'm going to say is that while you may listen to it on more of a superficial level and think you've heard tunes like this constantly and constantly - you haven't. Marnyah attacks the Bonafide and in the process doesn't go in the direction of more frequently used Reggae clichés. One 'bonafide' winner!
#4. 'Keep Trying'Jah Marnyah and Faya Wurks chose 'Keep Trying' as a single from the album and it's a pretty easy thing to see why. Again, we have a song which well conveys its poignant message, but does so in a very entertaining and very digestible and accessible manner.
"Outta street, crime rate ah escalate
Hold on, brother man, don't lose the faith
Hold on sister, don't lose the faith
Righteousness Rastaman ah penetrate
Love King Emmanuel, Incients Of Days
Love King Selassie I, love HIM always
Love Marcus Garvey, love him always"
#5. 'I Can See' featuring Anthony John
Veteran vocalist, Anthony John, joined Marnyah on 'I Can See', which was the only combination on the whole of "A New Day". If I recall correctly, the story behind this song was that the two had run into one another while doing work in the same recording studio in France and John was so impressed by the chanter that he decided that he wanted to do a track alongside Marnyah. 'I Can See' is the result of that encounter and it is a BEAUTIFUL piece. Big credit goes to John and Marnyah for, besides actually singing the song, for having an ear that their styles would work so well together. They were right (and biggup Anthony John who has a new album of his own running now, "Step In The Future")
#6. 'Musical Party'
Unsurprisingly, the Ska-ish bounce of 'Musical Party' was another piece chosen to be a featured one from the album. This tune has been on a bit of a journey for me because I honestly didn't rate it too highly from when I first heard and I really, really like it these days and I was already well within that turn-up when I first wrote for the album. You will find better songs present here, but probably none more catchy and ready for the radio as 'Musical Party' was and remains.
'Smile inna ya face then stab you inna ya back
Dem a true born hypocrite"
If you give a surface or cursory listen to 'Hypocrites', you're likely to still rate it fairly high as I did, but with a little time having passed and now REALLY digging into it, this song is… kind of spectacular. Each and every time I vibe it these days , I find yet another interesting and captivating aspect about a tune which certainly took its slow time in doing so, but has now blazed to near the top of my favours in regards to this album. Really deep track and definitely have a listen for yourself.
#8. 'More Than A Friend'
'More Than A Friend' is a very straight forward love song and it is in that straightforwardness (who knew that was an actual word???) that it manages to surprise a bit. Prior to the releasing of "A New Day", this was definitely the type of track I wouldn't have at all expected to hear Marnyah singing, no matter how long he went on. Well, he got around to it and it was also surprising because it was likely better than anyone expected that it would be.
#9. 'Badness A Madness'
This tune had a bit of a Hip-Hop influence and musical 'texture' to my ears and while normally that can prove to be a detraction for me because I'm no Hip-Hop fan, here it worked and added a very nice edge to the tune, which wasn't very edgy. At its core, 'Badness A Madness' was a very clever anti-violence/social commentary offering which kind of held up (or held down) 'BADNESS' as a basic infection and even offered a cure and treatment. This one was another which you should well spend a great deal of time on as far as the wording because if you just sped through it, you almost surely missed something.
#10. 'Dem Vex'
I don't know exactly how highly I'd rate it, but were I, right now, to do a list based on my favourite songs of 2012, 'Dem Vex' would definitely be a top five entrant and I wouldn't at all be shocked if it were #1. The song was so relatable, so comforting, so accessible and just downright STUNNING in every way! I go back to it now and I've had a few - 'Dem Vex' has helped me through a few bad moments and I'd hope that it get some type of a greater presentation and exposure, because I just think that there was so much on this track that the masses would like to hear. Here, it's kind of buried on this album and it probably never will receive the type of light shone in its direction that I think it deserves, but DAMN [!] this thing was MASSIVE, and if no one else picked it up, I'll be playing it!
All was well just a few tracks back at 'More Than A Friend', but now things have soured in the relationship on 'Lies'. This is one of the more catchy selections on the album and, slightly, a piece which has gotten better with time. The song of course. The situation - your special person not treating you too special ["I wouldn't be something on the side for you"] -remains most fucked up.
'Everyday' painted a really bleak and hopeless story in the society on which it spoke. It was just a harsh tune from the very first listen and it still is. However, I think that I appreciate it a bit more these days than I did originally and while I don't know that I'll ever get to the point where I'll view it as one of the album's finest (although I might), for me it fits so nicely on board this project and adds just a bit of a BITE during the latter stages of the record.
#13. 'Rasta Is Love'
And finally is a tune in 'Rasta Love' which was listed as a "bonus track" for the album as it was a much previously released single by Marnyah. It was also absolutely fantastic and a certain favourite of just about anyone so sagacious enough to have a listen.
I & I praise and love The Emperor The Prince Of Peace
Yeah babylon instigate dem hate through mental slavery
Let us, love not to hate, to deal wid it right yes, yes
Mi nah go slide, nah go slip, nah mix up inna mess
SO GI DEM A VAN DAMME THUMP, A BRUCE LEE KICK INNA FACE
Si dem ah send treat
You si dem ah plot war, dem caan escape dis yah judgment, no at all"
I now take this one as maybe even the inspiration for the 'Dem Vex' track in part because while they aren't exact in terms of their subjectry, you can really stop 'Rasta Is Love' at its end and drop right in with 'Dem Vex' and you cover such a wide area of topics without really straying at all from the same 'umbrella'. Maybe you'd find it a bit more different and that's fine, but it's going to be really hard for me to hear any type of negative aspect of the quality of this song. BOOM!
So definitely pick up the album today if you haven't already. Jah Marnyah, although very much already a veteran (and he was one years before the album dropped), is someone who I think is really loaded in potential despite this advanced stage of his career and hopefully the next segment can be spent enjoying a greater level of stardom, because I think he's every bit as talented as some of his more well known peers. Don't just take my opinion, however, pick up "A New Day" right now and enjoy what might just be the single best debut Reggae album of 2012 altogether.