Friday, October 24, 2014

Rewind! - "Hit Me With Music" by Sara Lugo

"Hit Me With Music" by Sara Lugo [Oneness Records]
BOOM AGAIN! Keeping the celebration going for the release of "Hit Me With Music", the brand new and second album from Achis Reggae favourite, Sara Lugo, today we're giving it a second treatment and an even closer look. Following one of the strongest debut albums you'll hear in "What About Love", "Hit Me With Music" was an album I was not only very much anticipating but also had high hopes for and, as expected, it met and exceeded them all. And while you can certainly claim that this time around, Lugo embraced the Jazz side of her style a bit more, I cannot imagine that anyone who stuck around from the first album, and through all of the wonderful singles she gave us in between the two, will be disappointed with the direction of the second. It once again displays one of the nicest and most curious talents anywhere in Reggae today. And we're displaying it again as we wrap up 'Sara Lugo Week' and REWIND! "Hit Me With Music" by Sara Lugo.

See Original Review
1. 'The One'

"…high like a kite in the sky." The opener for "Hit Me With Music", 'The One', was and remains and absolute joy to listen  to. The song is built upon this wholly addictive bounce and you bounce, to the point of a neck cramp, right along with it and you won't be complaining at song's end. If I wanted to kind of grind this one down (because that's just what I do), what I take away from it besides being so damn nice to the ears, is the sense of really appreciating the moment. "THE ONE", whoever they may be, may be the one forever or they may be the one for right now, regardless, love them and enjoy! And personally I really like this song because when I play it loud enough when she's up, I can hear my Wife walking around singing the chorus, "you make me sing, lalalalalalala!). 

2. 'Really Like You' featuring Protoje

"Something about you." 'Really Like You' is like the first song on the album in the sense of both its direction and the way that it is best appreciated, at least in my opinion. It is another composition (this one courtesy of Silly Walks) which is just fun to listen to and that is what sticks with you. Unlike 'The One', however, 'Really Like You' is infectiously slow, DUSTY and Jazzy. For their parts, Lugo and Protoje team up and deliver a performance which 'really' fits so nicely with the music and, alongside the immediate amount of attention this one should grab on paper, make a song which should be one of the most noticed on this album for its QUALITY as well. Also I HAVE to mention (because I'm a nerd) how much I loooooooooove the way 'Really Like You' ends. I will not ruin it for you but the cool and subtle echo affect given to Lugo's vocals is an excellent touch. 

3. 'Hit Me With Music'

"When it hits, you feel no pain." Not because of the way it is delivered, inherently, but more so because of the way that it is written I now hear so much PASSION in the eponymous effort from "Hit Me With Music". She sings it, for the most part, in a relaxed tone (it's a beautiful tone but probably every thing coming out of this woman's mouth is going to sound beautiful) but there're times during 'Hit Me With Music' when you get the feeling that, by what she's saying, … Sara Lugo is kind of pissed off! 

“Why do we gotta act all tense
It doesn't make much sense
Didn't we all start out of love?
Are you with me?"

Again, I think she's 'hitting' at the industry and business side of music which seem to continue to drain away the human-element of how music is appreciate and just how much it means to people as an escape from daily life ["World off, music on - I push the button"] and an endless line of other reasons. And Lugo does throw the intensity higher during the tune's second half where the riddim goes up right along with her.

“Yes I love it 
When you hit me with music, hit me with music"

I was interested in how this tune came to be the album's title (based on what she's wearing, 'Black & White' would have been a fine choice as well), but it so coincides with Sara Lugo's style, this idea of making music which does challenge the listener to pay attention but also really makes a careful and genuine effort to sound so nice and that's exactly what happens on this song and the other eleven as well.

4. 'Black & White'

"I hope one day, you'll see." 'Black & White' is a song which is quickly becoming a favourite of mine from Lugo's on this album and beyond and, in this particular case, it is largely due to the lyrics. While it sounds amazing (biggup Morry), 'Black & White' taps into the idea of being unique in one way or another and not only acknowledging it but taking pride in it and making it one of the things that you love most about yourself. Lugo's method of illustrating this comes in her varied heritage but it fits on almost any 'surface'. So [!], if you could probably fit COMFORTABLY in a backpack (biggup Sara Lugo), if you only have nine fingers (biggup Xkaliba) or if you have a MASSIVE allergy to common sense (biggup Achis), "that’s alright…", "believe me, it's alright". Wananananananananana. 

5. 'Soldiers Of Love'

"You have a choice." TEARS! There has emerged a very urgent quality about 'Soldiers Of Love', a song on which Sara Lugo celebrates individuality and "shits in the brains" of conformity to a fractured way of thinking and behaving. I liked this song when I first heard it and definitely found its loose relation to any genre in particular damn compelling. These days, however, I LOVE this song. 

"You follow someone else's voice
You have a choice
But you choose the easy way -
Like a slave"

It's sound is interest, obviously, but if you listen to what is being said it gets even brighter and the two match. From what you hear - it gives the listener the sense (even if you are not paying the best attention) (shame!) that something really crucial is happening and, at least for me, it really makes you focus on the words. And when you have a selection where the MOOD matches the message so fittingly as it does here, you probably have something special on a song which I well expect to be very popular.

6. 'I Wish'

"All the best, best, best." BOOM! 'I Wish' was another song which I liked instantly but, having had a little time now to really take it in, it's even better than I thought it was. What changed is my recognition of the emotion of the song, which isn't the major area of focus here. I don't know if you've ever wronged anyone (actually I do know, I'm just saying that) but if you have, there is often this downright sickening moment when you become aware that you have and it becomes soooooooo difficult to think about anything else, particularly if "anyone" is really special to you and you want to make it right as soon as possible. If you listen closely, you hear Lugo go through all of these things musically in her own way. And, as I said, as someone who has now had more than thirty-three years of INTENSE experience of doing… really REALLY dumb shit, 'I Wish' is virtually biographical for me. A HUGE SONG! 

7. 'Play With Fire'

"Learn by doing." BOOM! 'Play With Fire' is still my favourite song on "Hit Me With Music" and, with the exception of the songs with which I was already familiar, it's definitely the piece here which I've listened to most so while I may not have much in the way of progression of an idea, I do have something. The song is one about making mistakes and having to pay for what you've done and it is presented in the way of trying to do right and at least making an attempt to not do negative things. HOWEVER, I always like when people acknowledge and respect the nature of human beings (and our tendencies) and mistakes. And that is exactly what Lugo does on 'Play With Fire'. She says that she, herself, went through things ["I learned my lesson and yes, it hurts"] and she does the same for everyone else ["Now I got no time to play around. No time to lose. But some things you gotta learn by doing"] which is respecting that while it is bad to play with fire, you're probably going to do it anyway and when you get burned (and you will), learn from it and learn that it isn't the end of the world (as I once heard said, "You are a product of your worst mistakes"). An even greater aspect of a song which I loved and apparently I wasn't the only one because they made a video for it. 
Speaking of the video for "Play With Fire". It is simply lovely. It features Lugo, almost exclusively, she is only joined by an actual fire, an old man on a mower, a driver and the video's real star, a dog. It's very simple and features nice French scenery and we see Lugo playing with fire… literally. What stood out most for me is the old man who, at video's end, is revealed to be fitted with some type of breathing apparatus and he's and example of what can happen if you 'play with fire' (but even in his case, it isn't the end of the world). It's very subtle and appropriate for the song and for Lugo's music in general. Well done (and I currently have my own experience with this as I've been eating peanuts while writing this and just now, after about half an hour, I looked down and… yeah, gotta get a broom). 

"Salam" by Ras Muhamad [2014]
8. 'Learn To Grow' featuring Ras Muhamad

"Be who you wanna be." 'Learn To Grow' (which I apparently also call 'Learn & Grow') is a song which I've looked at extensively now having reviewed it twice and now having a second REWIND for the tune as it initially appeared on Ras Muhamad's colossal "Salam" album but in the nature of several other songs on "Hit Me With Music", I do have yet another new fondness of it. That comes with, again, seeing how the song really sends up individuality and uniqueness. It is a piece about learning and maturing in life but those lessons and that maturation is to be applied in what YOU want to apply them to. There's no formula or template for life and I think that one of the prevailing messages behind this song was to find what it is that you want to do (or at least TRY to find it) and then "show some effort" to be the best at it that you can. And, I have to add just how lovely this song was on the ears. It's fantastic. 

9. 'Never Ever'

"You better recharge, you better restart." As I said in the review, 'Never Ever' was a very distinct song and something about definitely stood out to my opinion. What was it? I kind of get the feeling that it is a song Sara Lugo wrote about Sara Lugo. And while we get another taste of the idea of developing and maturing as a person, I think in the case of 'Never Ever', this was Lugo's own story. She gets very detailed at times ["Her best friend once told her. 'Never give up. Never let success get to your mind. Never let failure get to your heart' "] and, again, either through her own personal experiences (which has my vote) or through a damn sharp pen, she really places you in the moment of the emotion and what happens is easily one of the most compelling efforts on the entire album. 

10. 'Love The Children'

"I don't wanna be the only one." In retrospect, 'Love The Children' is a song which features that quintessential Al.Ta.Fa.An sound. It is downright LUSH and brimming with substance musically which is what typically what they do at their best and this song clearly demonstrates that on the musical end. And I think they knew that which is why it is set with a second half which is an instrumental. Vocally, it goes without saying that it is a well sung song… it is a Sara Lugo album after all but I do think it is a song which is slightly different than what we're used to hearing from her (and she did not write this song) and that's always a nice touch to see someone, particularly like her with the voice which could make it work, stepping in a different direction and I'm glad that they did this song. 

11. 'More Love'

"Gimme more." 'More Love', the other Al.Ta.Fa.An helmed song on this album is kind of the opposite of its predecessor. Though the track here is also BEAUTIFUL, what stands out far ahead are the vocals. Not to beat it down too much, but Lugo sounds SO nice on this tune. It is a love song specifically about how going through struggles in a relationship are not necessarily the time to quit but instead are the times which can bring people closer together. Her voice absolutely DANCES [!] on this track, with one of the most rousing moments being the final minute or so where Lugo, essentially, does Jazz scats along to the riddim and it's something she, unsurprisingly, does very well and hopefully this isn't the final time we get to hear her do it. 

"You were the one to brighten up my rainy days
You came into my life and took my blues away"

12. 'High & Windy' featuring Kabaka Pyramid

"The story must go on." And it fits perfectly that the final song on this album is probably the most well known piece that Sara Lugo has ever done. 'High & Windy' was her big song alongside Kabaka Pyramid for the Oneness' ReggaeVille Riddim and, as I said, even after all of this time and having surely heard it over a hundred times now, it still sounds so strong. It also fits, coincidentally, as a fine tribute from this album to the legendary John Holt, the original vocalist of the song.

There're so many powerful themes of maturation and maintaining individuality and a sense of self explored throughout this album that you know we'll have to revisit this one some day soon. Until then, however, hopefully you get the point that we’ve tried to give you all week long: PICK UP "HIT ME WITH MUSIC" THE BEAUTIFUL BRAND NEW ALBUM FROM THE AMAZING SARA LUGO AND ONENESS RECORDS! DO IT RIGHT NOW! BOOM!

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