Saturday, December 29, 2012

Rewind!: "On My Way" by Harry Mo

"On My Way" by Harry Mo [Yellow Hill Music - 2012]
Today we continue our look back at what was such a wonderful 2012 in terms of Reggae album releases by going in the direction of someone who I can fully say is one of my absolute most favourite artists going to day, the always impressive Harry Mo. Mo is always such an interesting 'stop' along our journey and for many different reasons. One of the biggest is, and although this is changing as I see him becoming more and more popular - I always wonder if other people who are hearing his often amazing music is receiving it the same way I am. To my opinion, although he isn't amongst the most active of names, when he does bring new material, the Dominica born outstanding vocalist has as much to offer fans of Roots Reggae as almost anyone in the genre. For me, he fits very, very well alongside the likes of Mark Wonder, Mikey General and Yami Bolo whose, respective, straight-forward brands of Roots music I also love so much. To me, his music is divine and I so look forward to his offerings. In 2012, he didn't disappoint with is third studio album to date and his very first from 2008's Modern Classic set, "Back To Africa". The album didn't get the recognition that I felt it deserved, which was not surprising (his first two haven't either), but as you can see, we're still listening to it and if you have yet to pick it up, here is another reason why you should as we REWIND! "On My Way" by Harry Mo.

#1. 'Freedom City'

Straight-forward Roots Reggae music. Unapologetic. Unwavering. Completely set and confident. All of those terms well apply, in general, to the huge majority of the music of Harry Mo, but that's particularly true in the case of the opener of "On My Way", 'Freedom City'. About six months on now and what stands out here is just how wonderfully and cleverly this tune was arranged. What Mo seems to do, basically, is to warn the masses to avoid the nasty and dirty and unrighteous aspects life and the system we live in, because they can lead to a loss of one's freedom - but on top of that he also wants us to prosper in our freedom as well. Freedom is a great thing, but it is even greater when you actually do something with it. I love this song and it was and remains one of the signature moments from this album.

#2. 'On My Way'

Speaking of signature moments. The album's title track remains on a short list of songs which are amongst the very best that I've heard from anyone this year. I remember the first time I heard this album and this tune, it was HARD [!] continuing on. I instantly loved the track and it became a very healthy amount of time before track #3 popped up on my radars. Nowadays, out of the many things and routes I've taken this repatriation piece in, one thing so sublimely stands out to my ears.

"Waan be close to His Majesty's throne!"

Out of all of the brilliant and poignant moments in this song, that's the one which sticks out. Going beyond, I relate it, nearly entirely, to the aforementioned "Back To Africa" album. When I really dug into that project, what I came away with was that Mo's idea of "Africa" was both a physical and mental place. He was speaking of taking oneself, one's body, to a new location and he was also speaking of making sure one's mind was going as well and I won't go to that level of detail for "On My Way" (because this is something different), but this one line steered me in that direction because the throne of His Imperial Majesty, of course, is a tangible thing, but it is also a spiritual destination as well and in being "close" to it, obviously that gives one such a profound state of being again - physically and mentally. This song is magic and it's grown to become my new favourite on the album named after it. Excellence.

#3. 'Sunny Day'

'Sunny Day' is definitely a fun song and when I first reviewed it, I mentioned as much, but I'd like to cover just a bit of what I think its intentions were. First of all, it clearly was meant to make you feel good and, as I always say, there is a sure quality in that. If you can make a song which makes me happy… I don't even care what you say in it really, but thankfully here the message is big as well. What I take from the idea here is having big expectations in life. I would also say that Mo is saying to "aim high" and really just be humble, but confident in yourself as well. The song, by its nature, is somewhat light, but for everyone who was fortunate enough to hear and enjoy it, I really do hope you don't neglect what is being said.

"Sunny day!
What have you got for me today?
Sunny day!
Somethings good coming my way"

#4. 'Selassie I Name'

Next is one of the best and truly most POWERFUL selections "On My Way", 'Selassie I Name', which is just 'message-music' in its purest sense. Here, Harry Mo takes a look at all of those who, seemingly randomly call out Rastafari, but whose actions call out something of a far different origin. Doing so, they've brought dishonour and "shame" to the image (and ONLY the image) of Rastafari. It isn't a topic which has gone completely unexamined, but I don't know if I've heard a song specifically on this subject which was so well created. Oh and it sounds fantastic as well. It is a very sonically pleasing modern Roots Reggae song.

#5. 'Silence The Violence'

The direction of 'Silence The Violence' is pretty much comprehended from the title alone (at least I HOPE that it is), so I don't feel that I have to go there in this instance, but what I will say is how impressed I am about how well this song is 'performed' and 'displayed'. Too many times I hear artists sing about something that, at least presumably would bring out some type of emotion --whichever it is-- and it comes through like they're basically talking or singing or doing what they normally do. That's not what happens here. From the presence of the song as well as his delivery, you KNOW that violence deeply affects Harry Mo and he's well tired of it now. Listen to this one and take into account everything you hear to fully appreciate it.

#6. ‘Shine Your Light'

'Shine Your Light' is another tune which I feel doesn't require a great deal of interpretation (although I'm going to do it just a bit, anyway), but it too has a very large presence around it as well. The notion of 'shine your light', at least in my opinion, is Mo's way of telling us to make a contribution to the world. What that "contribution" is, exactly, varies from person to person and I think this song is one big celebration of that. Your "LIGHT", ultimately, is what you do well. Whatever that is, if you sing songs, if you write ridiculously long reviews and articles or if you play a sport, DO IT! Make your contribution and at least make an attempt to "make a difference in life".

#7. 'Creator' featuring Army

Until recently when I so much fell into the title track of "On My Way", the massive praising tune, 'Creator', was my single favourite song on this album. On paper, the initial attention to this song comes as it is actually a combination featuring Harry Mo alongside the most venerable Ras Army (I'm going to require a new Army album in 2013) (thank you), which is definitely a major occurrence. When you actually get to the song, however, that attention shifts to the fact that is just an amazing song!

"Jah mek the sun fi rule by day
And still the moon fi rule by night
All you've got to do, is show your brothers love"

The song is about how much His Imperial Majesty has done for us and how little HE asks in return. And when it pinnacles, it becomes this magnificent journey of a song which… is just WRONG to miss out on. I love  this song.

#8. 'One Race World'

"As we celebrate HUMANITY
And show love and everyone that Jah create

Jah seh:
I am the vine and you are the branches
Abide in me and I'll abide in you
Yet still we heed all those evil voices of hatred and greed and envy too
We live our lives, we take the chances
We've all got our burdens to bear
But mind your words and activities and remember who brought you here!" 

A "celebration of humanity" is a perfect way to describe this one. 'One Race World' is a highlight here and it is one with a flare and one which I would think would have a serious amount of 'hit-potential', if it ever got the opportunity.

#9. 'Pray For Love'

There's just something very attention-grabbing about 'Pray For Love' and if you've ever heard it, I don't think I'd have to explain why. Here is a song which is VERY simple in its approach (and probably its sound as well, although that sound is very large) - Harry Mo just wants everyone here (on the planet) to do better. To live up to higher standards which isn't a difficult thing at all. I hesitate to call the song a 'changeup', although it is in some aspects and it also offers one of the most memorable SOUNDS on the album.

#10. 'No Love For Us'

The jovial and bouncing social commentary 'No Love For Us' is also likely to grab your interest because of its sound as well.

"See those misleaders, they're misleading us
Deleting our resources and they're causing us to fuss
They don't know dem type the Rasta do not trust
Smile in your face and then will push you under bus
Sell dem soul to secret society
And then come tell wi that they care bout wi
We're gonna say it cause its what we see:
They got no love for the people"

As you can (hopefully) see, however, it's also very crucial lyrically as well. Don't miss this one.

#11. 'Get Up'

'Get Up', by its own admission, is the 'dance song' "On My Way" and that's fine. The most interesting feature of this tune, as I said in the review, is that while it is a song which says to dance and enjoy yourself doing it, it's also a song which says to do so BECAUSE you've already taken care of your responsibilities. If you have hungry babies, don't dance yet. Feed them and then:

"Get up, get up, get up
Get up and dance"

#12. 'Rebel Music'

Harry Mo stirs it up next with 'Rebel Music' which isn't a 'dance song' like its predecessor, but is directly related to it in my opinion. This selection is one exists to celebrate Reggae music and, again, what Mo seems to say is that after you've done what you are supposed to do - have fun! Listen to Reggae music. Sing it!. Dance. Do whatever you like and get some inspiration for the rest of your life in the process. A sweet, sweet song!

"You si wi de yah Rocky Mountain High, rocking to sweet rebel music
Our feel is good and our mood is right, nice vibes we dot want to lose it
Hit me hard inna one-drop style
Dubwise and my Dancehall gone clear
That lyric droppin inna cultural style, like the vibes from the one Burning Spear"

#13. 'Mama Dominica'

And finally was 'Mama Dominica' which was a musical tribute from Harry Mo to Dominica. Looking back, the nature of this tune wasn't so dramatically musically diverse (although it was very unique), but Mo crafted a special blend of lyrics for the tune which would feature him switching between English and Kreyol, which is an excellent fitting feature on a song for Dominica.

I'm thinking of drawing a comparison from Harry Mo to another artist who has had such a fine year in 2012 - Ras Batch. While I won't go so far as to proclaim Mo "ahead of his time" as I have Batch in the past (and he is), I am picturing a time in the future (hopefully not too distant) when this man's music becomes so greatly appreciated amongst such a large portion of fans of the genre. I think it's on its way and I'm looking forward to being around to see it, as well as being able to appreciate what he brings in the future as well. Until then, you'll still find me shouting the praises of such a strong and constantly impressive artist in Harry Mo who continued his fine ways this year with a new GIANT album. So, if you haven't already, you still have time before random people begin making fun of you for not doing so - go and pick up the latest project from the great Harry Mo, "On My Way".

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