Catch Me Fay Ann Lyons (Single)
On entertainment website MTV Iggy, writer Greg Scruggs recently noted the trend of soca “drift[ing] away from its calypso roots and into the maelstrom of global pop, dance, and hip-hop.” Trinidad Soca queen, Fay Ann Lyons bends the genre further on its ear with her new single “Catch Me” produced by prolific Brooklyn-based DJ /producer/ remixer, Richie Beretta. Debuted at the 2014 Trinidad Carnival and now in wider release outside of the Caribbean on VP Records, Lyons sings with the cadence of a soca chantwell while the music pulses towards a new horizon where the elements of island rhythm are exchanged for EDM synthesis. The lyrics signal a new call and response aesthetic, “hands up and catch me if I fall, don’t let me down,” while the music juxtaposes handily to replace the road with the club, the tropical fete for the summer rave. This is the Carnival road march evolved!
OMG It’s 5 Miles 1st E.P. 5 Miles to Midnight
Music genre metamorphosis may be the theme for this edition’s Playlist reviews. Young band 5 Miles to Midnight has innovated the genre Island Rock (iRock), a fusion of rock and the diverse sounds that make up Caribbean music. This is fleshed out on the band’s debut EP, OMG It’s 5 Miles 1st EP with six original tunes of urgent aggression that belie the perceived pacific island life. The lyrics that fluctuate between helplessness and of feeling free—“I take control of my own soul and I don’t know what I’m doing now,” a yen for psychological order and control—are the cris de coeur of an oil boom generation of Trinidad and Tobago youth. Singer Liam King’s piercing tenor is a voice that commands attention, and the solid musicianship of his fellow 5 Milers reasonably suggest that this well produced Extended Play is noteworthy to understand another side of Caribbean life.
Homeward Bound Clifford Charles
Guitarist Clifford Charles fifth CD, Homeward Bound, continues a trend of re-definition of the music of these isles. Charles has endeavoured to convert soca’s high beats-per-minute freneticism into smooth jazz for easier consumption by an audience less inclined to be defined as “bacchanalist.” This may not be high achievement for the jazz connoisseur, but in the hands of this player, the ongoing efforts of many Caribbean artists to “crossover” make sense with this music on this album. The music never veers towards the kitschy excess of the genre. Recent soca hits such as Destra’s “Call My Name” and Bunji Garlin’s ”Differentology” evoke the essence of universal popular appeal. Recorded live in studio with his quartet, Charles maintains the chops that are recognizable for the effortless rhythm playing and solid soloing. Three originals balance the five soca smooth jazz covers and provide the basis for a soundtrack for a resort-inspired frolic.
Easy To Love Maxi Priest
UK-born reggae singer Maxi Priest’s latest album, Easy To Love contains eleven tracks (with a bonus track on iTunes) of the most accessible reggae music heard for a while. Included in the pot are elements of dancehall, lovers rock, rocksteady, R&B influenced ballads and modern reggae all making for a satisfying dish of what critics have called, “grown folks reggae.” Priest, who came out of the UK lovers rock and sound system scene in the 1980s, remains sincere to that genre by ignoring conscious songs in preference to love: both romance and benevolence. The collaborations are a key to this album’s worth. Priest sings with reggae legend Beres Hammond on “Without a Woman” and popular dancehall deejay Assassin on “Bubble My Way” showcasing range of mood and an ear for a hit. A cover of John Mayer’s “Gravity” seals the deal for the potential of a smash here and everywhere.
- These reviews appear in the September/October 2014 issue of Caribbean Beat magazine.
© 2014, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.