Thursday, October 16, 2008

Zema - Look At The Heart

Zema - Look At The Heart

When you liked Zema's album Stranger in the gates, you will absolutely love this one, because it contains everything that "Stranger" lacked: a full band with well known members such as Haile Maskel and Zacky Bernard (Twinkle Borthers), an all-stars list of guest appearances (Ras Michael), more songs, and more dubs, mixed skillfully by Scientist. Where the music on Stranger was catchy, the vibes on this one rock hard! Again, Zema comes up with a varied style of riddims, but they all stay with the realm of High Quality Roots Reggae. You can hear that the musicians are all very experienced. The dubs are mixed by the legendary Scientist, I wish that he would have dubbed all the titles, because they're really more than worth it!

The album starts of with "Open Up", a solid track with a nice guitar riff reminding me of Black Uhuru in their "Anthem" era. After this comes the title track, a heartical call to the hypocrites who like to judge their brethren and impress others by calling themselves "leaders". Third title is a cover of Johnny Osbourne's "Give A Little Love", which in my opinion is much better then the original (sorry, brethren Johnny). Or take the next one, "Somebody Wrong", created after a traditional, with special guest appearance RAS MICHAEL, who can be considered as the conga specialist of Reggae Music. Track 5 is called "How Long", with nice (male) backing vocals. It's a heartical sufferer's prayer that I'm sure many can relate to. Next up, "Praise You". In a one drop stop style, this a righteous track filled with praises to the Most High. It comes with it's Scientific Dub mix, skillfully mixed in the style of Scientist Dubs Culture Into Parallel Universe. "Their Own Sight", the next track on the album, is a Steppers Beat over a really powerful lyrics based on an ancient prophesy. Also this track comes with an accompanying Dub Version by Scientist. Followed is the song called "Gain The World", again in a One Drop style. A crucial One Drop style, because the drummer really knows how to play this rather difficult rhythm. One Drop continues in the next track ("Who We Are"), that Zema wrote together with Twinkle Brothers' keyboard player Zachy Bernard, her husband, by the way. There's a little guitar solo in the track as well. The last vocal is my absolute favorite: "Praise Before Battle": a rub a dub tune that I played five times in a row when I first heard it. I just can't get enough from this one, it's so strong, both lyrical and musical. Too bad there is no dub from this one on the album.

Speaking of dubs, I already mentioned them, Scientist has dubbed two tracks on this album. They remind me much of his Dub album from Culture's Payday, also reviewed in the Dubroom.

All in all, I consider this to be one of the better recent roots reggae releases. The sistren is gifted with a great voice, sweet yet strong, schooled yet heartical. Zema belongs to the absolute top of female Reggae Singers, and I am not alone in this opinion. In every critique and review I read, the writers are talking hailing up the album. This is a must for your Conscious Reggae Collection!

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