Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rewind!: "Love Govern Us All" by Qshan Deya'

"Love Govern Us All" by Qshan Deya' [Diamond Rush Productions]

When your collective audience ages eleven years between album releases, I guess you better do your absolute best. That was the situation that the amazingly gifted vocalist from out of St. Vincent, Qshan Deya, faced in 2012 when he delivered his sophomore album and his first from 2001's debut feature, "Journey". Fortunately for him what he had going so 'severely' in his particular case was that his talent hadn't subsided at all. To a large degree he was still very much the singer who caught the attentions of and impressed so many of the masses which would lead to him, at the time, being amongst the most discussed and respected newcomers from around the turn of the century. He also hadn't completely vanished and had remained active, but it was linking with Garfield 'Sampalue' Phillips and Diamond Rush Productions which ultimately would bring Deya back to fans in the way many had come to know of him in the first place - a very big album. Today we take a look back at that album which may have gone overlooked by too many fans, one of the finest from all of last year (which is saying a great deal) as we REWIND! "Love Govern Us All" by Jah Humble Servant, Qshan Deya

{Note: The album, originally digital only, is apparently now available on CD}

#1. 'Long Time'

The opener of "Love Govern Us All', 'Long Time', is definitely an autobiographical song and although it isn't one which is entirely unheard of, in terms of what's going on in the song, here, it sounds so nice. The tune is one which basically gives the story, from an internal perspective, of how Qshan Deya would ultimately arrive at the door of Rastafari and how so many others have not only gone through that same process, but also how others are still doing so. It's really a fantastic song and, on a sonic aspect, it is one of the most appealing on the album as well and, on the whole, it remains the best song I hear here. 

#2. 'Help Me Jah'

"Bless me with the lyrics and the melody -
To uplift humanity
Strengthen my music, spiritually -
As I embark on my journey" 

Deya goes on to ask The Almighty for various forms of help in various forms of life during this song, but at its core, 'Help Me Jah' is really listening in on one side of a conversation between the singer and His Majesty. It's almost like a tune or a dialogue which would have happened when the idea was struck to make a new album because what the singer is saying is that he wants help to make sure his music is good and that the people receive it well. Even more importantly in my opinion, he's also asking that he continues to sing upful and positive music, which is a very striking and HUMBLE request (and I mean that in a great way). I've had so much fun with this song in the last six months or so because it is such an 'open' tune and you can hear what you'd imagine to hear from someone in Deya's situation. He's unsure, he's nervous, but he's also very confident and the very fact that this album exists now, I think, is a massive piece of evidence that a song like 'Help Me Jah' really served its purpose.

#3. 'Cut & Clear' featuring Emperor Mangasha

The exciting Emperor Mangasha joins Qshan Deya on the first combination on "Love Govern Us All', 'Cut & Clear', a fantastic praising track. Where the tune which preceded it on this album is far more specific in its subjectry, this tune is much broader, but absolutely no less delightful in my opinion. It is very accessible and straight forward and the sound is one which sticks with you (going back and listening to it now for the sake of this feature, I immediately smiled when I heard it drop in) and hopefully we'll get a big year from Mangasha in 2013 because he's a very talented chanter. 

#4. 'Fast & Pray'

Speaking of being delightful, next we have the just as pleasant 'Fast & Pray'. Hearing this tune now - I made a connection to it being "Luciano-esque" (and it is), but it's also kind of R&B-ish and Jazzy. While I wouldn't at all reach it to being in the arena of Gospel (despite the nature of its message), it does have a more open-genre feel to it and surely that was by intention. This is a good changeup effect for the album to my ears and it certainly doesn't hurt that the entire song is excellent. 

#5. 'Disappointments'

"Some disappointments can be a blessing
Life is a test, learn from the lesson
Some disappointments come with a blessing
No need for stressing"

As someone who has made, literally, an infinite amount of mistakes in my life (and a number which, whatever it is, continues to grow by the… quarter-hour or so), I really tuned in on a song like 'Disappointments'. Here, Deya very much says and acknowledges that people, including himself, are going to experience the proverbial 'ups and downs' of life, but it is so important to not allow the 'down' portions, even if they outnumber and the 'up', to just weigh you down entirely and, furthermore, to look for the lesson that is to be learned when you make a mistake and have disappointments in your life. 

#6. 'Love Govern Us All'

Beginning the title track of this album is a wonderful (and, again, I likened it to something you might hear from Luciano), piece of a speech from His Imperial Majesty. And like the intention of the speech, the song which follows it is one which really centers itself around the concepts of love and unity. Although loooooooong time pillaring themes of Roots Reggae music, they don't at all become in danger of being stale or repetitive on this tune. That's because, in my opinion, the sound of the track. It is BIG and blaring and captivating and a beautiful and very poignant song. 

"It's time we put away our differences and let love govern us all!"

#7. 'Start Today'

Another captivating and infectious sound on "Love Govern Us All" would be 'Start Today'. Outside of making my head and feet move when I first heard it, I didn't think much of this tune when I first heard it and while I still wouldn't rate it amongst the very best material the album has to offer, it is better than I originally gave it credit for being. It still has the big and 'immediate' sound to it which is always going to be what grabs the most attention in regards to this song, but if you sift through it all, Qshan Deya does offer up a strong and inspirational message in the midst of a very lively moment. 

#8. 'Single Parents Cry'

“Mama, Mama, where's my papa?
The cry for single Mothers
Papa, Papa, where's my mama?
The cry for single Fathers 
Mama, Mama, where's my papa?!
Is that him over yonder?
Papa, Papa, where's my mama?
She's gone from last September

When you sow the seed, you must grow the seed
When you sow the seed, you must grow the seed

Single-parent life, it is not right
Parents shouldn't fight in front of their children
Two wrongs could never make a right
Teach dem the way of life"

What was and what remains, by far, the most interesting lyrical aspect of 'Single Parents Cry' is the fact that Qshan Deya actually gives some clear credit the single FATHERS of the world. Though far outnumbered by single MOTHERS, they do exist and while I definitely can say that I've heard songs giving mass due credit to good Fathers of the world (biggup Queen Omega) (biggup Fay-Ann Lyons!) (The Letter F) (WHAT!), I cannot say that I've heard one, specifically in reference to single Fathers and, in general, to the overall experience of raising a child or children by yourself, regardless of your gender. Big tune and very original. 

#9. 'Mama'
And just so you don't leave "Love Govern Us All" thinking that Qshan Deya has neglected someone (particularly She who is most important), the next song up is 'Mama'. Coming in with a nice acoustic backing, Deya gives a gorgeous tribute to his Mother, the Mother of his producer and all good Mothers of the world (Hey Mama!) (Hi Mama!) and the wonderful things they do and emotions they bring. 

#10. 'Never Let You Down'

Despite having a strange Country-ish quality to its vibes, the very straight forward 'Never Let You Down' is at least a decent love song which is a sizably better selection than I would have originally given it credit for being (although I did definitely like the song) and I say that, primarily, due to the nice marriage of what is being said and HOW it is being said with the track itself. It makes for a subtle, but completely noticeable and LOVELY tune.

#11. 'Still the Same'

Another love song, 'Still the Same', in my opinion is a decidedly better tune than its predecessor (and, again, I just said that I'm slowly but surely warming even more up to 'Never Let You Down', so that's saying something impressive). An interesting thing happens here, between these two songs which I think are more related than in being two love songs, back-to-back on the same album. They both, distinctly and primarily, speak of love as this kind of lasting and evolving entity. Deya doesn't talk about loving in the moment ONLY, he talks about loving in the moment as part of this much larger and ever developing timeframe. 

#12. 'Guilty' featuring Lady G

And to wrap up the 'love moment' of "Love Govern Us All", Qshan Deya taps a very nice surprise in the form of venerable Dancehall veteran, Lady G who joins and adds considerable spice to 'Guilty', another song with slight Country textures to its sound. Of the three, I probably favour 'Still the Same', but anytime anyone shows the INTELLIGENCE to make a song with the excellent Lady G, credit is due all around and he isn't done making smart moves in terms of guests for the album.

#13. 'Bloodshed'

The tune 'Bloodshed ' is probably most memorable for the way in which Qshan Deya MASHES UP [!] everything from the start of the song by letting his voice reach a downright damaging level. The song which ensues afterwards also sticks in mind as Deya gives a stirring anti-violence social commentary. From a lyrical standpoint I always like how the singer acknowledged here that there, ultimately, will be some responsibility that must be taken based on the way the world has gone. It just won't clean itself up one day and all is forgotten. 

"Too much bloodshed everyday
Taking the innocent life away
Jah won't let them get away"

#14. 'Elevate Your Mind'

These days 'Elevate Your Mind' very much comes through like a prequel to the tune which comes before it on the album. Where 'Bloodshed' establishes that "someone will have to pay", what this song does is to, basically, say that make sure that YOU are not the 'someone' who has to pay. Because you are to: 

"Elevate your mind
Walk away from crime
Be wise in this time"

#15. 'Go 2 School' featuring Tony Rebel

And to "elevate your mind", or at least to get started elevating it, you may want to 'Go 2 School'. None other than Tony Rebel joins Qshan Deya to make the point even clearer on the track aimed at the youths and, again, the idea here isn't one which is for the moment. It's definitely more of a lasting thought -- go to school and then demonstrate and do something with what you have learned. 

#16. 'Get Out' featuring Half Pint

It is very clear that Qshan Deya has a great taste as far as with whom he chooses to record. To further that point, he concludes the combinations on "Love Govern Us All" by linking with Half Pint on 'Get Out', which is really an interesting song about doing as much for other people that you possibly can when they need it. The tune itself is really HEAVY, but it doesn't sound as slow as It probably is because of the wonderful melodies created by the duo. Another interesting aspect of this song - how many combinations do you hear between two singers??? Not many, but listening here, maybe we should hear them a lot more.

#17. 'Everything Tun Up'

And finishing the album was the refreshingly and brightly ADDICTIVE 'Everything Tun Up' and it's hard-to-shake-out-of-brain chorus. This song I remember mostly for being completely dazzling. Yes, there is definitely a point made and a good one, but you hear 'Everything Tun Up' and it makes you move, in one way or another from start to finish. 

"After so many years of sacrifice
Harvest time, now the fruits is ripe
Things manifest, what a beautiful sight!"

I don't think I'll ever be of the mind that Qshan Deya going eleven years in between sets was a good thing (that's more than thirty albums' worth of time for Midnite). When you are capable of doing things like this, you should really be as active as possible. However, he does seem poised to reclaim much of the attention he received and attraction that he offered as one of the best and most revered up and coming Roots Reggae artists around the turn of the century. The material on this album was a grand indication of that, as is the various other tunes he's done in recent times. So, if you didn't pick it up last year, it definitely is not too late to take a listen to one of the biggest return albums in a long time, "Love Govern Us All" by Qshan Deya.

{See Original Review}

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