Saturday, January 3, 2009

Jah Roots

Jah Roots
from Springfield, Missouri, USA

Crucial (GanJah, 2006)
Jah Roots returns as strong as ever, but if you wanna hear 'em this time out, you'll have to pay, you deadbeats (see People have families to feed, y'know. After releasing their first two albums to the masses free of charge, the band understandably has decided to go the standard retail route with Crucial. It continues in the same vein as their previous efforts -- invigorating roots with a free-flowing, "jamming" vibe that at times samples past classic cuts (like Israel Vibration's "Same Song" riddim on "Secrets" and Barrington Levy's "Murderer" on "Don't You See the Problem") and that just makes you want to boogie. As with Babylon Weak Heart, they hook up with DJ SkillinJah (for one cut) and add another two sing-jays to the mix, I-Ron and Badda Skat. These guests represent admirably and throw a jolt of party energy into songs like "Good Highs" and "Chant Down Babylon," but it's Ras Josh who continues to be one of the most engaging singers in reggae today. He combines a Marley-esque wail with Ali Campbell-esque soul and throws in a blues singer's calculatedly ragged edge and a jazz singer's vocal improvisation to craft a style that would make "Mary Had a Little Lamb" listenable. From up-tempo jams like "One to One," "Poverty," the anti-babylon rant "Don't You See the Problem," and the title track to more mellow grooves like "Roll Up the Spliff," "System a Dread," "Secrets," and the anthemic "Fight Down We Chalwa," Crucial soars. Hopefully, its mainstream distribution will draw more fans into the Jah Roots sound.

Track Listing
1. Crucial featuring I-Ron
2. Don't You See the Problem featuring I-Ron
3. Secrets
4. One to One
5. Good Highs -- I-Ron
6. Fight Down We Chalwa
7. Roll Up the Spliff featuring I-Ron
8. Chant Down Babylon -- I-Ron
9. Murderers
10. Poverty featuring I-Ron
11. System a Dread
12. Empress featuring Badda Skat
13. Dub Love featuring SkillinJah

Joy (GanJah, 2008)
In just three short years, Jah Roots has established itself as one of the most dependable American reggae bands, thanks to skilled musicianship and an intriguing lead vocalist in (Ras) Josh Heinrichs. Joy is a solid follow-up to their previous "crucial" album, Crucial, incorporating the rousing roots sound we're used to hearing from the group, with touches of jazz and dancehall in the mix. This time around, DJ I-Ron becomes a co-lead vocalist, appearing on 9 of the 12 tracks, unfortunately dampening some of the impact of Ras Josh's singing. This isn't to say that I-Ron is a bad DJ -- indeed, he's a more than capable performer (although the rapping on "Home" doesn't work for me) -- but his aggressive delivery sometimes overpowers the mellow mood set by Heinrich's vocals (as with the otherwise melancholy "The Truth"). That said, Jah Roots is one of those bands that could perform anything and make it sound good. Even if you don't really like an individual song, you still enjoy the overall sound. This is what I like to call "groove reggae." The title track, a rousing jam propelled by a chugging organ-like riddim, is perhaps the highlight, although the haunting "Wanting You," the energetic weed anthem "Ganja Weed" (featuring legendary Wailers guitarist Junior Marvin), the love song "Only Wanna Be With You," and the quirky remix to "Spliff & My Lady" stand out as well. Now's as good a time as any to get to know Jah Roots. See

Track Listing
1. Joy
2. Wanting You
3. Ganja Weed
4. Spliff and My Lady
5. Home
6. I Know
7. Only Wanna Be With You
8. Burn Them Out
9. Truth
10. Society
11. Legalize
12. Spliff & My Lady Remix

You can read reviews for our cd's & see the artwork for the albums at the link below:

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