"Check Your Words" by Reemah [Feel Line Records]
And we return. Of all the wonderful artists making their official full-length debut album debuts in 2012, which included the likes of both Reggae star, I-Octane the full-on maddeningly talented Jah Marnyah, someone on that same high level who didn't get the attention deserving of their monstrous talents was Bambú Station product, Reemah from out of St. Croix. For her part, even a year full of big names and full of even bigger talents, Reemah not only managed to set herself apart from the pack, but she also managed to distinguish herself and her abilities going forward, making the chanter the latest in a long line of skilled female vocalists from out of the VI to announce herself present on the highest level. Today, in respect of two wildly talented princesses pushing projects next week [Etana & Jah9], we take a look and listen back to the debut set of someone who we hope is around for a really, really long time and REWIND! "Check Your Words" by Reemah.
The album's opener, 'Hypnotize', was a big tune and I knew that when I heard it, but I don't think that I actually gave it the credit it was due, initially - but it has grown considerably on me from that time. This thing is GORGEOUS! I really like how it is one of the more actually sang tunes on the album and, by the time you reach the album's end, you see how much versatility Reemah shows here in retrospect while, not at all, sacrificing any of her ability to get her message across and to deliver a powerful vibe.
#2. 'Better Way'
Red hot. Though not to the degree of its predecessor, 'Better Way' also features Reemah doing quite a bit of singing, but the real power here, as becomes a developing trend throughout "Check Your Words" is the… words. The artist puts on a lyrical display not to be forgotten which is amongst the very best to be found on this project.
"Everyday, another youth blood running cold, inna plain view
Somebody please make a rescue
And some a di parents not even old enough to pay rent
Lord we need a breakthrough
Looking out at society - so many broken dreams, what does it say to me?
Emptiness, Lord please feel the vacancy
How can they say they care and still let this be?"
TEARS! While it didn't have very much room in which to grow, at all, 'War' has now likely become my second favourite tune on the whole of this album and with good reason. In my opinion, this is THE type of song which well shows you what Reemah does best. There is this ever-combining of sounds and styles supporting this undeniable level of lyrical mastery and ABILITY TO MAKE A POINT. I definitely did not stress that enough during the first review. So many times I say how good an artist is as a writer and as a lyricist, but exactly why is crystal-clear in Reemah's case. At the core of what impresses me so much from her as a writer is how she goes about making a very clear and concise musical point. Want an example of what I mean? Check 'War'. Oh and it is also on of the greatest sonic experiences to be had here as well. A MAMMOTH song!
#4. 'In Dem Purse'
"Money in dem purse alright
Most of dem inna di church -
Dem deh a di worst
And, deceit in their eyes
Dem no got no love and are di first to criticize"
Money can turn [some] people into mad men and women is the prevailing point to be taken from another selection which really exemplifies everything that Reemah does exceptionally well, the very strong 'In Dem Purse'. Very subtly, this tune also has a great deal of powerful melodies as well. It SOUNDS very nice and, somewhere in there, particularly at the second first, Reemah seems to hit a different lyrical gear where EVERYTHING seems to fit perfectly and she delivers a musical piece of golden bar.
#5. 'No Question'
Grrrr! As I mentioned in the review of "Check Your Words" (or at least I think I did), Reemah actually did an EP release prior to the album's release (produced by Bambú Station) and it was called 'No Question'. Listening to this song now what I'm really sticking on, besides its awesome lyrical approach (and it was awesome) is how 'loose' the tune is. What I mean is that, for the most part, the songs up until track #5 on the album are just a bit more structured, but stuff just changes on 'No Question' and I LOVE it!. I always talk about how much I love when an artist's delivery and passion match what they're saying (and they don't end up singing about social change in the same tones as they do about making love) (which is ridiculous and happens way too often) and on this tune, not only does it match perfectly, but you can also trace it to this point on the album where, apparently, Reemah just got pissed off! And it wouldn't be the last time, either.
#6. 'Judgment Red'
Red. I went back and noticed that I'd compared 'Judgment Red' to something that you might here from Vaughn Benjamin and that's an excellent link (though not at all intelligent (not even a little!), I can say smart things occasionally). I think Mr. Benjamin would approve of EVERYTHING on this track which is a stirring social commentary, perhaps taken its greatest look at things going on beneath the surface.
Where Vaughn Benjamin would be the one to whom the previous selection would draw comparison, another extremely reputably VI Reggae figure should be thought upon when listening to 'Wanderaz', Dezarie. This tune was downright magical and I like it even more now than I did when originally hearing it and months from now, I'd expect it to be even stronger . This track, in particular, is one which so easily seems to be lost in the 'shuffle' on the album, but I really enjoy highlighting tunes like that, especially when they're excellent - and 'Wanderaz' was excellent - at least.
#8. 'Jah World'
It is pretty easy to hear 'Jah World' and to reach the conclusion that I did, initially, in that it is this type of spiritually helmed social commentary, but I now think that it goes deeper than that. The song comes off less as a tune speaking to the rest of the world in terms of making statements and suggestions of how to improve the world, but more of a composition which is, essentially, a conversation between Reemah and The Almighty. And she doesn't seem to say to the rest of us to realize that "this is Jah World [and none a dem caah run it]", but seems to be saying TO THE ALMIGHTY, to help us realize that this is HIS world and because of that it is to be respected above all other things.
#9. 'Live In Love'
INTERESTING! Now! The piece that I use to think that 'Jah World' was - this running piece aimed at the world to live more responsible and righteous lives in respect and tribute to His Majesty - I now see 'Live In Love' as FULLY! It is a bit broader and more opened, so it isn't written exactly how the previous song is, but I certainly do look at them as a bit of a 'team' where 'Jah World' is Reemah talking to The Almighty, 'Live In Love' is her 'returning' and seeming to say, "this is what I've learned from that discussion'. BOOM!
#10. 'Due Time'
My favourite song on my first examination of "Check Your Words" remains atop of the album, the MASSIVE 'Due Time'. And, as is often the case with great songs, nearly every time I hear this piece, I get something new from it and take a larger appreciation of it. At first I was almost wholly focused on the lyrical aspect of the song, and for good reason. 'Due Time' is a PERFECTLY written tune. There're no flaws in its composition in my opinion and that is still so wonderfully case, but something else is going on here also. LISTEN to this song. It is a beautiful creation. Its sonic appeal is quite high over that very familiar track and with very nice additions from backing singers who seem to chime in at the perfect moment. 'Due Time' was probably one of the best ten or so tunes that I heard from anyone in the packed 2012 and it's still getting better.
#11. 'Check Your Words'
"Step on di stage so dem ahgo act right"
The album's title track was a very clever piece about artists who may sing righteous and upful songs but live anything but righteous and upful lives when they step off stage and the video light burns out. It certainly isn't as immediate as 'Due Time' or some of the other linguistically dynamic moments on the album named after it, but this song is one of the greatest lyrical performances you'll find here. Also of certain interest is the very first verse which features a very clever delivery by the artist.
"When dem inna di public ey-ey-eye
When dem out dem ahgo bless di whole of di I-I-I
Establish a façade to mask and hi-i-i-de
Concealed like a glass weh tint out inna dem ri-i-i-de
Wah dem ahgo do and dem say - a two si-i-i-de
When dem know work and speech haffi coinci-i-i-de"
#12. 'Dominion & Control'
I don't know if it was intentional, but I'm going to give all credit to Reemah for making it so: If you listen to the chorus of 'Dominion & Control', a piece about people who fall under the control [and dominion] of corruption, WONDERFULLY, Reemah presents the portion in a kind of a robotic type of a sound, which is probably SPECIAL EFFECTS for Reggae music. It is a subtle (but not really) addition to a song which goes on to prove that it doesn't need much in the way of help to its quality level.
#13. 'Try Love'
And finally (this was very pleasant! I don't even think it took an entire hour of actual work to write this piece) was 'Try Love' which was not a 'love song' in the stereotypical usage of the phrase (although I would really like to hear Reemah do such a tune). This effort was more of an inspirational piece which would work well anywhere you'd want to put it, but as a final song on the album especially where it gives the listener a bit of a uplift, going forward.
"Check Your Words" album snippets
I can't imagine, despite how much I WELL hope it to be the case, that people, on a large scale, who didn't pick up this album will suddenly begin to do so, but what I do feel is that, at least from a quality perspective, this album has all the indications of a project which will extend beyond its time a great deal. I DEFINITELY do not see this set as one which has diminished in a year or two and I'll even far more likely see the direct opposite occurring. All of that remains to be seen, but what is clear for the moment is that if you did not check one of the best albums of 2012, "Check Your Words" by Reemah, now (right now) would be a great time to make that happen.
See Original Review
See Original Review