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Rebelution - 'Free Rein' Album Review


1. Celebrate

2. City Life

3. Legend

4. Settle Down Easy

5. Take On Anything

6. Patience

7. Rise On Top

8. Trap Door

9. Good Day

10. Healing

11. More Energy

12. Constellation

Being a massive fan of the Easy Star All Stars and their brilliant 'Dub Side Of The Moon' and 'Radiodread', I was really looking forward to hearing this album from their label mates Rebelution.

'Free Rein' is Rebelutions sixth studio album, and whilst it still oozes the Jamaican inspiration that Rebelution's songs and sounds have always paid homage to, they mix elements of Rock, R and B and Folk. The band do not look like your average Reggae collective, in fact they look more like a Rock band. This makes for an interesting and varied set of tracks, with mixed genres. This album is a chilled collection of songs perfectly released in time for long summer days.

The album opens with the first single released from it 'Celebrate' which is an uplifting number with a classic Jamaican groove and choppy guitars. The catchy hooks and percussion mean that it is an instantly likeable song, that you cannot help singing along to. The whole message about support and unity strikes a chord in these divided times. 'City Life' continues the Reggae vibe with classic guitar riffs and simple drum beats. A great song about escaping the city to reset yourself, the lyrics are dreamy with lines such as, 'Really and truly I should pack up, and find my way under the stars, I'll roll a sack up and find some peace and quiet, get my spirits back up'. 'Legend' has a heavier bass line and is the first number with some great brass interludes. It plods along at a nice pace with the rhythm of the lyrics in perfect harmony with the instrumentation. So the first quarter of the album has a pretty standard Reggae vibe to it.

The laid back ambiance continues with 'Settle Down Easy'. Simple and crisp production make this an easy song to listen to you. It is a fairly standard Reggae love song with lines such as 'Nothing satisfies me as much as when you're happy, It's true'. The intro of 'Take On Anything' is so similar to the previous track that when I first listened to it, I thought I had inadvertently hit loop mode. That said it is a nice track about staying true to yourself, with brilliant horns again. 'Patience' starts with a heavy bass drum and then steel drum percussion, but again sounds similar to the previous two tracks. Although the intro and the choppy Reggae guitar are unmistakably Jamaican the vocal delivery and laid back tempo make this a Reggae/R and B cross over. The second quarter of the album whilst a little samey, is easy listening.

'Rise On Top' introduces a harder, Dub groove, which is in contrast to the somewhat safe previous tracks. The vocal is delivered in a Dub Rap style complete with reverb. The guitar drives the tempo and rhythm. Things really start to groove with 'Trap Door' which starts with a Funky Rock vibe. Whilst the beat is Reggae, the instrumentation is sublime, and punctuated with those sweet horns. This is a long track on the album, coming in at just under 5 minutes. There is more piano on the this number and towards the end a Bluesy guitar solo with nice sustain. The instrumentation melts in together and Eric Rachmany pours the lyrics like honey into the mix. I love this track. 'Good Day' is a another feel good laid back track that conjures up the feeling of sun on your face and shear contentment. 'Today is gonna be a good day And I wouldn't want it any other way. I've got my number one lover right beside me and she holds the key to my safe' makes you just feel happy and OK with the world.

'Healing' is a beautiful song. An acoustic number with, just 2 guitars, and acoustic and a nice twangy electric supporting it. The lyrics are sweetly delivered by Eric Rachmany. This track played live would just have the audience giving 100% attention as they connect with the band on stage. We are back to the familiar Jamaican groove with 'More Energy'. A Rap Dub number with classic Reggae reverb. The tempo is quick and snaps us out of the mesmerising previous track. The chorus is catchy and the instrumentation will stay in your head for a while after the album has ended. 'Free Rein' ends with 'Constellation' Which again starts with a simple acoustic guitar and gentle, somewhat gruffer vocals. It is a gentle track with some nice strings in it which allows the album to fade out.

This is a perfect album for chilling on long summer days. The tracks are diverse enough to keep the album interesting and Rebelution prove yet again why they are ahead of the game with their modern take on Reggae, mixed with other influences such as Rock and RnB. The stand out tracks for me are 'Trap Door' and 'Healing' The only downside I would say is the sense of deja vu with tracks 3 to 6.

They are a Reggae band for this age and 'Free Rein', which is released on Easy Star Records is an understated but rich piece of work.

Review - Tony Creek

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