|"Never Surrender My Faith" by Lutan Fyah [Jah Warrior Records - 2013]|
And we aren't the only ones going back - Lutan Fyah's most recent album release actually came as the wonderful people at Jah Warrior Records opened their vault and put together an album which had been in the making for quite some time, just earlier this year. In this case the results were as expected in two ways. First of all, as is his norm, it was yet another big release from the ultra-talented chanter and it was an album full of material from a much earlier stage of his career which would sound accordingly. Because of that, the album struck me as one which would have more of an appeal to older fans as, over the years, Lutan Fyah has become a much, much more dynamic talent than he was in and near his beginnings. So we join Jah Warrior Records in their vault with a vintage level of Lutan Fyah once again and we Rewind!: "Never Surrender My Faith" by Lutan Fyah.
1. 'Never Surrender My Faith'
"I tell you seh a longtime mi deh yah and ah watch it
Send off false preachers and teachers and prophets
Babylon ah spread out dem dutty epidemic
But dem mental disease, Rasta caan catch it!
Emmanuel seh go Black people and replenish
It's a blessing yow
Empress Menen ahgo send it
Remember seh di action ahgo tek and it ahgo drastic
Rome - dem waan fi burn out yuh mind like a plastic
I never surrender my faith -
Oh just to please them and those who fight the peace wi create"
The thunderous opener and title track for the album is one which has well stuck in mind and I'm sure that I'm not the only one. Prior to the release of this album, this tune was probably the most well known feature here and it stands up well as kind of an observation on the world with a very spiritually inclined view. The sonics here are nearly majestic and it goes without saying (though, as usual, I say it anyway) that lyrically it is just about a perfect performance from Lutan Fyah.
2. 'What You Gonna Do'
Grrrr! The Fyah asks 'What You Gonna Do' on this powerful track with one of the most devastating riddims on this entire set. That KNOCKING track adds fuel to a track which, essentially, asks if you're ready to live a better and more righteous existence and ready to do it now. Again, the lyrical display here is flattening and it mixes nicely with a version of Lutan Fyah who seems a bit PISSED OFF in his delivery, but apparently his patience has abandoned him and the moment is now critical.
"I seh it again:
Tell it to dem devil and devil-mind friend
Our Father's Prayer, shoulda be dem National Anthem"
3. 'Smoke The High Grade'
After the hurricane that was 'What You Gonna Do', definitely some relaxation is in the order and that is what Lutan Fyah does on the next track, 'Smoke The High Grade' ["cigarette is banned from these premises, but don't be afraid to smoke the high grade"]. There is a fantastic denseness to this tune which I don't think that I noticed originally, but it sticks out clearly going back now. Take that and add to it another somewhat harsh delivery and you have yet another big tune from the start of "Never Surrender My Faith".
I'm now aware of a very similar sonic connection between the vibes of 'What You Gonna Do' and the song here which was the album's peak is my opinion, 'Ridiculous' (though the margin between it and a few other songs on the album, including the first two, has shrunk). This song was a diamond of a listening experience as the Fyah has this very confident mood about him and it doesn't boarder on cocky or arrogant because he involves himself just enough to make the listener know that this is his problem as well. But what he sees going on in the world is ridiculous and he isn't at all shy of telling us about it - thankfully.
5. 'She Brings Me Joy'
'She Brings Me Joy' is a song which I had originally marked as somewhat average on this album (and I think that was because I just didn't like the chorus on the song, and I still don't), but maybe I didn't give it enough credit as a whole. Yes, Lutan Fyah has done many songs of a similar vein which were considerably better to my opinion, but this tune also earns a bit of shine particularly during its latter stages were it comes very close to dazzling the listener. Listen to this final half-minute or so of the tune where the intensity steps up and the horns become louder and you can sort of lose yourself in it a bit - something that didn't happen for me until I came back so definitely give it a bit of time and space ["for everything!" So take some time to know yourself"] [BOOM!] before making a final judgment.
6. 'Things Better Now'
I just like the ideology surrounding the presentation of 'Things Better Now' so much. What it is saying, as the title would suggest, is that times have changed and we have done better than we did before in many areas, but there is still much work to be done. The first part of that is really vital because it saves this song -- which features the artist, at times, full on shouting -- from being too grim and ghoulish and the shouting goes from being this kind of broad chastisement to being, instead, Lutan Fyah's impassioned shout of encouragement to the world to keep it up and to continue to make progress and to do better.
7. 'It's Your Society'
If you wanted to "continue to make progress", you might want to take a listen to the issues risen on 'It's Your Society', which also finds the chanter as a little more fiery than usual. The pounding and somewhat old school Dancehall-ish track on this one really adds significantly to the mood on this one which approaches really sinister things that the Fyah goes on to deal with during the MASSIVE tune.
8. 'Always Be Loving'
"So I will still be loving
Oh I will always be showing my care
Oh I will still be loving
Oh I will always be showing my care
Jah love can never be forgotten
Some of dem stoop, end up so rotten
Oh dem go dwell up inna silk and satin
Ah! A mongoose, dem old, dem ah fatten"
Though still not a favourite of mine from this album, I do have a greater appreciation for 'Always Be Loving'. This is really the type of song that I think could have benefited from a more peaceful type of chanting from Lutan Fyah. He goes into the screaming portions of the song (as he does often on "Never Surrender My Faith"), but it wasn't the best style in this case. Of course that does make this one a 'bad' tune, it is far from it, but I see something here which could have it even more solid.
Though the riddim on 'Rebellious' is quite good, I do not think at all that newer fans would be able to appreciate this song very much, if at all. Sonically speaking, it ranks very low in terms of being something immediately interesting or capturing, but to my ears (and probably yours as well if you're sticking around his long) it is golden and, easily, one of the best things about this album. To my opinion, no tune here really illustrated that kind of evolved style of Lutan Fyah better than this one. He's gotten better at certain things over the years, but with certain others, improvement just was not possible.
10. 'Love Is For You'
I'm not a fan of 'Love Is For You', it is my least favourite tune on this album, but it is listenable. The prevailing factor there is the riddim, which I'm sure I know from somewhere (and I think I know where too) and has be musically intoxicated in some way. The chorus is pretty nice also and it is a decent song ultimately.
11. 'Good And Pleasant'
"How good and how pleasant it is for us to live together
Oh children do you honour, your Mother and your Father
How pleasant it is - oh just love your Brother
From this time forth and after"
BOOM! 'Good and Pleasant' was another selection which had vibes which I wouldn't at all expect to take over a newer fan, but had a level of lyrical perfection which was unshakable for more experienced heads. When this song hit its peak, it sounded like something out of Vaughn Benjamin's catalog. That's how much knowledge was being transferred to the fan and he wasn't finished. There were three more tunes on the album.
12. 'Let Righteousness Be Your Guide'
'Let Righteousness Be Your Guide' fully epitomized the term 'solid'. There was very little about it, if anything, that would strike a listener as being remarkable, but from beginning to end it was just a very hard and solid effort of a tune and one which helped bring the great strength that was present at the end of this album.
13. 'Stay Focus'
Gifted with one of the strongest riddims you'll find on this album, 'Stay Focus' was a really big tune which, as expected, really didn't get the attention that its quality would dictate that it would deserve. Obviously, for his part Lutan Fyah also brought his levels up and delivered a BIG tune which really spoke on not being distracted along the journey of your life. This one definitely did have a big sonic appeal (there is a saxophone in there somewhere which is just candy to the ears) and, fortunately, it was lyrically precise, but even if it wasn't, I probably would have enjoyed anything on that track.
14. 'Reason Without Conflict'
In retrospect, something which alluded me through initially thinking about 'Reason Without Conflict', which I still do enjoy in many ways, is just how STRANGE this song sounds. The riddim here is relentless. It doesn't give up at all and because of that, it kind of mires the chorus which, in an almost Jah9-ish and Midnite-ish way, just kind of fades away into the rest of the song. So you expect this standing type of highlight which doesn't seem to mature, but it does, you just don't notice it very well. Thankfully, the song, itself, is a very nice one which limits the oddity, but I didn't hear that the first time through.
Something else which now stands out more than ever in relation to "Never Surrender My Faith" is the brilliant musicianship here. On almost every song on this album what you hear is a riddim actually developing behind a song. It increases intensity and it makes the overall presentation of a tune greater and more dramatic as well and, usually, it is a correct addition to the song as well. So while I stand firm behind the though that this one is FAR more likely to please older fans than newer ones, looking back "Never Surrender My Faith" would find Lutan Fyah, in a very early form, already exhibiting some of the subtle developments which would later highlight his output. And over the past year now, between it, "Truly" and a whole heap of outstanding singles, one could well say that Lutan Fyah fans, new and old alike, are musically living the life of a king.