by: Jarret Lovell
Baaba Maal - The Traveller - ( +180 RECORDS)
During the 1990s, Canadian producer Michael Brook teamed up with Peter Gabriel's RealWorld label to produce some of the world's finest musicians in an effort to render the music "accessible" to a western audience. While it is debatable whether such a step was patronizing or even necessary, the result was music that combined the best of cultures. One need only think of his production work with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to see how the formula worked. While Baaba Maal's "The Traveller" has no connection to those earlier albums or producers, one listen instantly reminds the listener that world music can indeed exciting and loved by western audiences. From Senegal, Baaba Maal is both singer and guitarist. The sound is rich with drums, his guitar, and his impassioned vocal style. While the songs are not sung in English, they focus on women's rights, HIV/AIDS awareness, debt relief, climate issues and education. According to his biography, Maal "is a Youth Emissary for the United Nations Development Program and a global ambassador for Oxfam." Track #3 "One Day" is simply beautiful with great guitar sounds.
Mellow Mood - 2 the World - (Tannen Records)
From Italy, Mellow Mood have been performing together since 2005, building a steady following in their home country. 2 the World is their second album and features Tanya Stephens, Jah9, Hempress Sativa, Gideon & Selah. The sound is certainly mellow, but don’t be fooled. You’ll likely want to get up and sway to the basslines. Track #3 ‘Criminal’ is fantastic. Track #6 ‘Weh Yuh Trend’ has a dancehall beat, but it never develops into a full-on dancehall track, which is quite nice and unique. Overall, this is a solid reggae release, establishing Mellow Mood as among the top European reggae stars (Alborosie, Gentleman) sure to gain popularity internationally.
Earth Beat Movement - BPM 70 - (PRINCEVIBE PRODUCTIONS)
From Rockit.it: ‘Earth Beat Movement are an Italian band formed in Tuscany in 2012. Right from the start they have shown passion and talent for creating reggae rhythms as well as hip-hop beats which are especially apparent in their earlier productions. The band is made up of five musicians, including lead singer Irene MisTilla Bisori.’ Nice to have some female reggae. The sound ranges from slow, almost acoustic reggae to upbeat danceable tracks. Play.