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Break the Soil

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Album Review

Who doesn't adore this band? For a decade now the Virgin Island based Bambu Station has been pumping out uplifting reggae music for the massive, garnering a world-wide following in the process. Break the Soil is the group's fifth full-length, and a splendid one at that, bookended by a pair of superb unity numbers, "Brotherhood," which opens the set in prime Bambu fashion and "Injoy," which closes it in classic roots reggae style. Both showcase Jalani Horton, the band's lead singer/lyricist, who is not just one of the best composers on today's scene, but one of the most literate, thoughtful, and thought-provoking period. His messages are clear, concise, extremely well reasoned, and inevitably persuasive. Horton's incredibly fresh takes on the well-worn unity theme are impressive, but "New World Order" is awesome, an absolutely inspired dissection of the war on terror and the terrorism that provoked it. Equally heavy hitting is "Who (Litany of Liars)" revolving around colonialism past and present, while "Sing Upright" makes it personal, chiding those reggae stars who would sell their mothers to get on MTV. "Chance to Grow" connects the two, bemoaning the loss of indigenous culture and the rise of ignorance that helps lead the youth astray, whilst counseling a better way, the latter further expostulated on "Sense Enemy." Babies having babies, women who need to learn self-respect, those who talk a good game, but whose actions consistently defy their words, all receive lessons from Bambu's life coach. Of course, Jah is praised many times over, His munificence noted with thanks, and the path He wishes us to walk beautifully illuminated. On "I Remembah," Horton recalls his happy childhood and the life lessons imparted by his much adored Granny, who so obviously laid the foundation for the man he has become. This lovely number moves Bambu into new, jazz-flecked territory, just one of a number of excursions into new musical lands the band undertakes. An airy flute haunts the intro to "Beloved People," "Enemy" is stripped to the musical bone, guest Reemah stamps her imprimatur on "Grow," sweet harmonies echo across "Liars," classic brass-splashed roots send "Bird's I View" flying, soul licks round "I Sing Prayses," a hint of funk flickers round "Brotherhood," while Tuff Lion's fabulously versatile guitar is evident across the set.

Break the Soil? Surely the band did that long ago, the musical seed, too, was already planted, and with this album the group has now flowered into full magnificence.

Break the Soil, Bambú Station
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