One-drop rhythms are flooding back into fashion in the dancehalls, while consciousness continues its inexorable rise, so few bands should be better placed to be swept up in the cultural wave's crest than Bambu Station. Unfortunately, the group hail from the wrong Caribbean island, the Virgin ones, not Jamaica, otherwise they'd already be hailed as the new Wailers. So Station may have their work cut out for them, but there's no doubt they're up to the challenge, brimming as they are with self-confidence and a determination to deliver their message and music to the world. Working out of their own studio, this self-contained unit writes, records, mixes, produces, and releases their own exceptional material; and in that respect Bambu are actually closer in spirit to the early British roots reggae scene, than the Jamaican. They too have been inspired by the originators, even as other influences have left their mark, giving the group a unique roots style. If one needs a comparison, very early Steel Pulse springs to mind, there are the same laid-back atmospheres and bubbly rhythms, counter-pointed by tough themes and extremely sharp, resonating lyrics. Opening with a sobering look at the divided and diseased state of the world and closing with a lesson in righteous life that emphasizes the importance of the individual, One Day offers critiques on virtually every subject worthy of attention. Violence, war, the divisions that drive them both, man's responsibilities, forgiveness, and correspondingly lack of mercy, religion, and politics all inform Jalani Horton's astute and insightful lyrics, which continually give new impetus to these much discussed issues. Along the way, there's a lovely homage to Malcolm X's widow Betty Shazbazz that doubles as a call for female dignity, and a powerful, heartfelt tribute to Amadou Diallo, the innocent immigrant who died in a hail of police bullets in New York City.
It's easy to lose oneself In Horton's impassioned performance and words, but his bandmates are just as worthy of note, creating blissful backings that effortlessly bubble along behind him. The heavy-hitting "Gunsmoke" evokes all the power of Steel Pulse's classic "Handsworth Revolution," "Pass It" captures all the incendiary fire of the roots rockers age, while the haunting "One Day" hints at the Specials at their moodiest. But these are merely points of reference, numbers like the anthemic "Fire" and the mesmerizing "Move On" confound any easy comparisons, bringing the glory of the roots age into modern times. This is a fabulous album that demands a place of pride in every cultural fan's collection.