Monday, May 5, 2014

'Time Has Come': A review of "Bring Them Together" by The Lambsbread

Getting around. Someday in my lifetime I hope that everyone will collectively decide to add another day to the week or maybe a few more hours to the day or something like that and we'll all have a little bit more time to do what we would like to do. While I will surely spend a whole heap of the extra spaces on the calendar sleeping (and so will you), I'd also have a lot more time to pay due attention to a few of the people who I've always been meaning to listen to throughout the years. I will always be of the opinion that Reggae music, as a whole, has never been as good as it is in the current era and a large part of my case would be made on the strength that there has never been a time when the music has been as spread out as it is now. And while, in theory, one could well make the case that too wide of a dispersal of anything can lead to a diluted or a thinned out version of that particular thing, in Reggae it has only helped as you so often come across people who not only do the music, but do it so well. Because of that it has taken what was once a very specific type of music  -- and one which was far easier to follow -- and made it something which requires a great deal of work to keep up with. And, as you might imagine (and, as you have experienced yourself), sometimes someone slips through the proverbial cracks and, for one reason or another, just don't fully arrive on your radar or do so in a much belated timeframe. Times like these. As I've said in the past, throughout the years there've been several artists whose music I've been meaning to really take a big listen to, but just have never gotten around to actually doing. Most times, these are names who are either easily avoidable in my regular listening habits (someone like Lord Kossity, for example) (who I will also get to someday, hopefully) and/or I haven't heard enough of them to have developed a passion to seek out much more of their work. There're others who go through giant spells of inactivity and just don't spend the time building up enough musical 'momentum' to get me really excited about their output and… sometimes, I just get lazy. Still, despite as much as I may try, I simply have no excuse for what happened in this particular case, but things are changing. 
Meet The Lambsbread. The Hawaiian based (biggup Sahra Indio) duo of Kaya and Nadia has seemingly been around from the beginning of time (at least slightly more than a decade and probably longer) and they haven't exactly been too far out of line in terms of what and to whom I normally listen. Over the years they've recorded songs with artists such as Lutan Fyah, Messenjah Selah, Ras Attitude, the Arkaingelle and others and I've been well aware of it. With that being said, however, I've never taken the time to properly dig into their work and that's probably shameful as they haven't been inactive on the album side either. By my count (which is likely inaccurate - it usually is) this most recent release becomes the duo's forth to date and it would take four full albums and who knows how many singles before I caught on.  
I'm sorry. I made a mental note maybe a year or two ago to get into what The Lambsbread were up to and it wouldn't take too long for them to give me ample reason to do just that as they now bring forth their brand new album, the fittingly titled "Bring Them Together". The album comes from a pair of labels with whom we've been considerably impressed through the years, Jah Youth Productions and Rumble Rock Recordz. The former has been absolutely scalding in 2014 as, already, they've had their hands on two big projects, "Indigenous" from Rob Symeonn and, most recently, Perfect Giddimani's "Better Off Dread". Both of those albums have been amongst the genuine highlights of Reggae albums from this year and, as we've said in the past, 2014 has been a special one for Reggae albums, definitely. As for RRR, while they haven't seemed to be as active recently as they used to be in dropping big tracks such as the Stringz and the Step By Step, that history has shown what they're capable of and even the projects in recent years, including work with The Lambsbread (more on that in a minute) have reaffirmed just how much quality comes from Rumble Rock. As for The Lambsbread, themselves, 2008's "Rise" appears to be their most recent release, so it was definitely time for them to arrive with a new project and, particularly given their direct history with RRR, I don't know what type of circumstances could have emerged which would have made for a more perfect time for them to get back with a new album. And I should also mention that both "Indigenous" and "Better Off Dread" have been fairly well promoted, at least in my opinion, so it is nice to see The Lambsbread's music placed into the same vehicle as well with the results being, presumably, that a lot of first-timers like myself will be exposed to their music. Of course, you have to perform and grow a fan base who will return for album number five when they like what they hear. I can't say that I have had much (any) to complain about in regards to what I have actually heard from them in the past, so because of that and the labels behind this album (digitally distributed by Zojak Worldwide) and how long it took me to get 'here', my expectations were large for this album and I was really hoping that it turned out to be pretty good. Did it? Let's talk about it.

The first thing that stood out to me, musically, about "Bring Them Together" was just how varied the album is. It is most certainly a modern Roots Reggae album, but it is a surprisingly very colourful one and throughout these fourteen tracks, you're going to hear a very healthy variety of different textures and sounds. For example, check the extremely familiar opener and eponymous effort for the album. This song is a full JOY to listen to with Nadia's telephone-like chorus contributions standing out highly. The song, as its title would indicate, is a piece about unity and just making everyone aware of what a next person is going through and how not everything is beautiful for everyone. It is, easily, one of the most sonically pleasing pieces here and a rather easy choice for a title track in my opinion. The second song on the album is another familiar one to my ears (if ever you tire of your sanity, just listen to an album and try to figure out the names of riddims that sound familiar to your ears. It almost never works in the moment but, two days later, it will magically pop into your head) and one which definitely required a bit of thought to take in. 'Veteran' is another nice sound, but I immediately tuned in to this one on more of a lyrical side. In that arena, you have a socially conscious praising tune and a very strong one - a certain highlight from this album as well. Things get even more interesting on the next track which is the first of four combinations from "Bring Them Together". 'Strong Rock' links The Lambsbread with both Fantan Mojah and the aforementioned Perfect Giddimani and does so on a LARGE platform. The track behind this song is all kinds of forceful and dramatic and everyone uses it to the fullest (Mojah's contribution is MAMMOTH) and deliver a song about being confident and firm in everything you do. Again, it is also a very entertaining song, which can be just as important.
Similar ideology to 'Strong Rock' is expressed on another big combination from the album as the venerable Prezident Brown joins in on 'Stand Firm'. This was one of the official singles from this album and I have actually heard it before. It is a solid tune and another about instilling a sense of self-esteem and pride in the masses. When you look at the tracklist for "Bring Them Together", surely your attention is drawn to both 'Strong Rock' and 'Stand Firm', because they feature the big names, but the two which may not draw you in as much, do just as well. Check the GORGEOUS 'Natural Mystic' which features Ras Lil Dread. While his name does sound familiar (all three of them), I don't know if I've ever heard of RLD, but with his performance on this tune, I'm sure I won't be forgetting him anytime soon. And there's also Rastar, who I have heard of through RRR's previous releases. Here, he makes his presence known on the album-closing 'Sell Off'. This is a fine example of what I meant when I spoke of the variety of different sounds you'll hear on this set. This tune is kind of Hip-Hoppish, which isn't my favourite, but I don't hate this song and it well provides a necessary bit of an EDGE to the vibes here as well. Those are songs which, even on the basis of having guests, are sure to capture attention, but it is on songs which may not leap out at you on paper where The Lambsbread really shine on "Bring Them Together" in my opinion. It is on a trio of selections where that becomes most evident, 'Trumpet Sound', 'Long Trod' and 'Jah Love Forever'. The first of these three is a dazzling composition about striking out against corruption, wherever you find it. The tune also features Nadia stepping out a bit and she has a FANTASTIC voice! It is perfect for the music she sings and so nice to listen to. For his part, Kaya delivers one of his most impressive lyrical assaults on this album and a, in general, a very big tune. To my opinion, the very curious 'Long Trod' has no equal on "Bring Them Together". First of all, the riddim on this song is a piece of gold and I think that it makes such a fine usage of Kaya's style of chanting. It almost seems as if he's doing some type of a loud whisper, most of the time, and with the very direct nature of this song, it blends in behind him completely.

"Lord trod -
But still Jah Jah carry me
Rough road -
Yet still mi trod it steady
Wicked man -
Mi seh mi never envy
Nuff blessings and strength Jah Jah send mi

Hold your head up
Never give up 
You gotta live up
Though you're weary, be strong yeah
Wipe those tears from your ears
The youths dem no cry
Rastafari live up
Yow, mi people nah give up
Yeah, mi people say 'Rise Up'
Wise up"

There's also an intoxicating PULSE found in this song which I, wonderfully, cannot get out of my head and I loved this song from the first time I heard it. I'm also very fond of 'Jah Love Forever' and it was another track which took virtually no time for me to arrive at that opinion of. It is BEAUTIFUL! The song is more laidback and relaxed for the most part, but it too has an underlying intensity or "pulse" to it as The Lambsbread turn in a MIGHTY piece for His Majesty.  
My eyes also recognized previous single 'Right Thing' which was The Lambsbread's cut of RRR's previously mentioned Stringz Riddim. It had been awhile from the last time that I'd heard either riddim or track and they both sound excellent a few years on. This tune also comes with a Hip-Hop remix later on the album. Of course I prefer the original, but the remix may not even be a full step beneath it (it actually isn't much of a deviation at all to my opinion). 'Live It Up' isn't too far behind either. Like 'Sell Off', this tune has a different vibes from any other on this album and I like it! As I mentioned, it is one of the pieces which well provide this album with its different sounds and help to make it the pleasing record that it is. There's also 'Where's The Love' which I do like, but took a while to arrive at that point. DEFINITELY do not pass a final judgment on this tune after your first (or second) spin through it. It requires a bit of time to grow, but it does grow and, as of this writing, it's still growing on me. And finally is 'Keep It Blazing' which is the only song here that I didn't really enjoy, but even it is of a decent level of quality and I wouldn't be surprised if many people enjoyed it immensely.  
The Lambsbread
Overall, as I said, I was well hoping that this album turned out to be pretty good and it is that and a little bit more. I do want to mention the kind of unusual pairing this is. Kaya is the lead vocalist, he dominates the sound of every song on this album and, as a lyricist (and I'm assuming he writes the songs) he's talented, but on each and every tune he has this lovely accompanying sound of Nadia's background vocals. The more you listen to these songs -- all of them -- her offerings become more and more glaring and I'd really love to hear more from her… well, I guess I know where to look for more, they have at least three other albums. Before that, however, "Bring Them Together" serves as a fine introduction, for me, to the music of The Lambsbread. It may have (it did) taken me a ridiculously long time to get around to it, but I'm glad that I did and I'm sure I won't be the only one. Well done. 

Rated: 4/5
Jah Youth Productions/Rumble Rock Recordz

Review #505

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