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First Listen: Jesse Royal – Life’s Sweet

When you look at the cover of the new Jesse Royal album, Lily of da Valley, Jesse is looking back at you. His gaze is calm, mystic. On the back cover he is depicted as levitating between opposing landscapes of lush mountain greenery and fiery volcanic rock.

Jesse is known as the Small Axe. Born in St. James Parish, Jamaica, he is of Rasta faith, and those spiritual messages come through crystal clear in the words, sounds, and imagery of this album.

Lily of da Valley drops Friday, October 6 on Easy Star Records, and it reinforces Jesse’s strong role in the Jamaican roots reggae revival.  The album is the ultimate intersection of energizing rhythms and conscious message. A perfect example is the song “Life’s Sweet.”

“If life was a thing that money could buy, rich would have it and the poor would die. Life is a thing that money can’t buy, and that is why mi praise Rastafari.”

Even though the world is rough right now, stay strong and remember—life itself is sweet! You may not have everything you want, but you don’t have to give into temptation to survive. You can hold true to yourself and succeed in life. You can realize we have gifts in front of us, like water from the river and light from the sun.

Life is certainly not easy, but remember, it’s sweet that you have it. Listening to this tune is like looking through a window into Jesse Royal’s mindset, and the view is beautiful.

PRE-ORDER: Lily of da Valley


Nov 4: Virginia Beach, VA – Shaka’s
Nov 5: Asheville, NC – The Grey Eagle
Nov 6: Atlanta, GA – Vinyl
Nov 12: Cocoa, FL – Rootfire At The Park
Nov 28: Long Beach, CA – The Federal Underground
Dec 3: Santa Cruz, CA – The Catalyst
Dec 7: San Francisco, CA – The Independent
Dec 8: San Francisco, CA – The Independent


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Kayla joined Rootfire after following this music around the country for years. She has been hosting reggae radio shows in Madison since 2010. Her newest installment is '2 DUB', Saturday nights at 10pm on 89.9 WORT FM. She is the 4x winner of 'DJ of the Year' at the Madison Area Music Awards. You can follow her on social media at: @djkaylakush

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