When Rootfire Cooperative asked if I’d like to write an album review for the new Elovaters album Defy Gravity, I was—for lack of a better term—“stoked.” That being said: I’ve never written an album review before and also I hate album reviews. They always seem to make a lot of grand statements without actually talking about the SOUND or the FEEL—the most important parts, in my opinion.
Since these Rootfire premieres are called a “First Listen,” I figured I’d just tell you what I hear on my first listen through Defy Gravity.
There are a few things I look for in a reggae song/album on the first time through:
- A rhythm section/bass line that gets my head going in that irresistible “this is good” nod.
- Solid production—no excuses for sloppiness these days! That can be one of the biggest hurdles for a brand new band getting their stuff out digitally—you need quality. You need it to stand up to the likes of Scott Woodruff and E.N. Young. Anything less, and I’m sorry, but people won’t pay attention. For Peace Band’s newest album is the latest one where I went “woah, that’s good.”
- Something inexplicably unique—how many times have you heard “all reggae sounds the same?” Yeah—the bad reggae! You add something truly unique…magic.
- Positive song lyrics I can turn on to get my head right for the day. I listen to music all. day. long. First thing in the morning, I need some feel good reggae. Almost every day for the past three months I’ve put on Stars by Iya Terra as my first play for the morning. I think I’ve got a few new ones to work into the morning rotation now…
I found all of these in the first play of song #1 “Live By The Day.”
I found them all again when song #2 “Hold On” hit. Then there was the icing on the cake at the end of the song: Jerry Garcia style guitar licks and a “HOOOOLD OOOON” perfect for sing a long—that’s a combination that’s been tried and true for decades.
#4 “Shine” – Three quarters of the way in… “Hey, now now… ” listen to that snare POP!
#5 “People Go” – I was not expecting that beat! I think for once, we all got exactly the right amount of cow bell.
#6 “Boston” – My parents live in Boston. I’ll let this song take me home on my next flight to visit them. And the chorus: “Oh we’re always thirsty, we like our water dirty”—that’s Boston for you.
#7 “My Baby” – I want to dance with somebody! Those bongos will make you move the right way.
#8 “So Many Reasons” – Love that bass line, excellent drum and bass 4-on-the-floor break at the end.
#9 “Cool Down” – Have I mentioned I love that snare pop?!
#10 “The Ladder” – Some Santana style samba opening groove… WHAT?! That guitar tone is… sublime; this isn’t your average reggae. And what a great chorus, this one is stuck on repeat.
#11 “Shaking Off The Wolves” – Songwriting in the same vein as Ted Bowne from Passafire—everyone reading this is already a fan of that I’m sure.
You know what a seriously good album is for me? One that I can put on shuffle and be happy with every song that comes on…. King’s & Queens by John Brown’s Body… Hustling Culture by The Expanders…. yeah, here’s a new one for the list. The ultimate test: can you put the whole album on shuffle at a party with people who don’t listen to reggae and have them say: “Hey, what’s this?!” Looking forward to trying that with Defy Gravity.
I have this secret classification of reggae variations in my head that I don’t really share with anyone… it’s either cold weather reggae or warm weather reggae—and that’s entirely based on just how it FEELS; it doesn’t really matter where it comes from. This is some warm weather reggae out of one of the coldest places in the country.
Defy Gravity is an exemplification of The Elovaters unabating rhythm section that keeps your head nodding all the way through. The production is top notch, with crisp and invigorating dynamics from start to finish. But what truly makes it unique: the ever-adapting guitar tones that seem to perfectly complement each life-affirming lyric.
You need some gravity defying vibes to lift you up? This latest release from The Elovaters is for you.
Pick up your copy of The Elovaters latest release Defy Gravity out today on the Rootfire Cooperative.