ALBUM REVIEW: Natty and the Rebelship- Release the Fear

ALBUM REVIEW:

 

Natty and the Rebelship

 

 

Release the Fear

 

9.6/10.0

 

Release the Fear is available from 29th February (digital).  The physical release is out on March 18th.

GENRES:
Reggae; Soul; Future-Roots

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

TRACK LISTING:

I’m Alive9.6

SS I Luv U (Reprise)9.5

Rainclouds9.6

Streetlights9.5

Change (feat. Alborosie and Busy Signal)- 9.5

Motherland- 9.5

Stand Up (In Love) – 9.7

King Had a Dream9.6

Gaia- 9.6

Things I’ve Done– 9.6

Release the Fear (feat. George the Poet)- 9.8

DOWNLOAD:

I’m Alive; Rainclouds; Stand Up (In Love); King Had a Dream; Release the Fear

STANDOUT TRACK:

Release the Fear

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ASSESSING an artist that has already established themselves on…

 

the scene is always a little daunting.  Having had some notable backing behind them: It is to me to try and do something different and stand-out.  When it comes to Natty (and his Rebelship), press and critics have been keen to add their praise and plaudits.  I shall come to him soon, but for now, I wanted to look at the genres of Reggae and Future-Soul: Moving onto the subjects of peace and love (in music) and diversification of sounds.  It is not often I get to investigate an artist that mixes Reggae and Soul music together.  My last out-and-out Soul review was Leon Bridges: My Reggae experience does not tend to stray far and wide, alas.  The mainstream has some great Reggae artists working away although few make it to the charts and radio playlists.  Occasionally, stations like Radio 1 and B.B.C. 6 Music will feature a great new Reggae artist: There is still a focus on Indie, Alternative and Rock sounds.  Maybe it (Reggae) is seen as a niche genre and something that is restricted to die-hard fans: This is a mistake, as there is so much joy and potential to be found in the genre.  Perhaps the big festivals and stations do not pay enough attention to Reggae and Soul- not as much as they should anyway- but if you dig long enough; you get to discover artists that are changing the way we perceive music.  I have always adored Reggae for its positivity and hopefulness.  Whilst a lot of the best (and most genuine) Reggae artists emerge from Jamaica and the U.S.; there are some fantastic British examples making their way through.  Historically, this country has produced the likes of Aswad- a great group that still get plenty of airplay- Desmond Dekker and Eddy Grant: A veritable trinity of wonderful acts that have had a great impact on the music scene.  Even bands like The Police, The Clash and Madness employ Reggae vibes and its messages to maximise their own impact.  Those Caribbean sounds have a great reputation and history:  It seems there are fewer Reggae artists playing then at any other time.  Compared to the ‘90s, for instance, it seems like there has been a slight dip.  That said, the likes of O. Rappa, Kiko Bun and Fat Freddy’s Drop are brothers that keep that flame burning bright.  I guess British Reggae is viewed a watered-down counterpart to the authentic Jamaican sounds we all know and love.  Less a strong-rum Malibu cocktail: Perhaps a low-alcohol equivalent that does not elicit the same sort of kick and aftertaste.  Lloyd Brown- when waxing lyrical with Young Voices in 2013- tried to assess the issue:

Reggae has almost been outsourced to the point that it has been embraced by artists of all races, and I have no qualms with that because the music is all about ‘one love’ which Bob Marley sang about. But within our own Caribbean community here in the UK, I don’t think British reggae is seen as standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the reggae output from Jamaica”.

Before I continue my point, let me introduce the wonderful Natty:

“Hailing from North London Natty grew up surrounded by an eclectic mix of sounds from Neil Young to Bob Marley. Although interested enough in music to write songs from an early age it was while working in Sphere Studios, Battersea that he really discovered his talent. By day he was engineering for some of the biggest names in pop music, and by night this gave him the inspiration to nurture his own sounds.

Soon he garnered a devout following from his open mic sessions and Vibes and Pressure nights which have seen the likes of Ben Howard, Ed Sheeran, Wretch32, Dawn Penn etc perform.

The success of his debut Album “Man Like I” captivated the well-deserved attention of the uk media and press (see attached). It went on to establishing Natty as a well-respected songwriter and festival favourite across Europe and Japan, where had a number 1 hit with the single ‘Badman’.

TV Highlights include performing on Later with Jools Holland, ITV News and The BBC Electric Proms. Collaborations include work with Nitin Sawhney, Roots Manuva, Tony Allen, Busy Signal etc”.

Alongside his Rebelship- Bob Marley had The Wailers; Natty has his own backing brethren- you have an artist that is going to give British Reggae a much-needed kick.  There is truth to the fact British Reggae does not get just recognition: There is too much attention on other genres; stations and media sources are not pushing it quite as hard as they should.  Natty has become popular because of his quality and exceptional talent.  Perhaps it is his cross-genre pollination that makes Reggae more accessible and tangible to the masses.  Using Reggae as a base- its vibes and messages- he mixes in Soul sounds and (what he calls) Future-Roots measures.  Music suffers from a lack of overt positivity and redemptiveness.  Too many musicians are self-investigating and heartbroken when they present their music.  Whilst it is important to provide something personal and relatable to the audience- often involving relationship breakdown and stress- the music lover seeks something brighter and more hopeful.  If you think about it hard: How many bands/acts make music that preaches love, unity and strength?  Pop mainstream give a very muted and poor show of it- the big choruses and generic lyrics- so the torch has been picked up by Natty and his contemporaries.  Urging people connect to the world around them and make positive changes: Few can deny what a forward-thinking and original artist we have here.  The north London legend has already produced a critically-acclaimed album and is working on his brand- having parted ways with a major label recently.  Release the Fear is an album that makes you forget the strife and turmoil surrounding the world: Concentrating on hopefulness and love; we have a record that is perfect for the modern times.  Few artists are diverse and wide-ranging when it comes to their sounds and lyrics.  Natty and the Rebelship do not just stick with the classic ‘60s-‘70s revolutionary vibe- although that is a building block they work from- but give it a contemporary vibe.  Free of production tricks and polish- concentrating on a raw and real sound- Natty is a lyricist that has a sharp mind and a pure pen.  His lyrics do not suffer cliché and insincerity: You have a writer in touch with the world who funnels his uplifted soul through the transom of blissful Reggae and sweet-leaf purity.  There is jaggedness and something harder among the sun-kissed atmospheres: A musician who does not confine himself and has an exceptional breadth.  With his ambitions and grasp perfectly represented throughout Release the Fear: Here is an artist that is going to be a huge name in 2016.

Many of you will be new to Natty and the Rebel Ship.  Even if you are a keen Reggae/Soul fan, perhaps our London hero is a new addition to your consciousness.  In terms of his influences and heroes, the list below is a good starting point:

Lee Perry, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Neil Young, Fela Kuti, Yellowman, Finley Quaye, Prince, Burning Spear, D’Angelo, The Streets, Miles Davis, Sly Stone, Dillinga, Curtis Mayfield, Big Yout, Van Morrisson, Nitin Sawhney, Velvet Underground, Supercat, James Brown, Roots Manuva, Pink Floyd, Common, Slum Village, Bob Dylan, The Clash, David Bowie, Sizzla, Joy Division, Oumou Sangare… and the rest

Quite a wide and varied list from a man who grew up with some of music’s finest names.  Distinct and original, it is hard to compare Natty with anyone directly: Take the names above as a guide and arrive at your own conclusions.  Essentially, we get a compassionate mingling of ‘60s-‘70s Reggae revolution with some modern-day street-level messages.  If you love artists such as George the Poet- who appears on Release the Fear– and Bob Marley then you will find much to love here: The album (and Natty himself) has so many sides and colours few listeners will be immune to what he offers forth.

In terms of progressions and shifts; the ensuing time between albums has seen the young hero grows in confidence and direction.  Release the Fear is the most eye-catching representation of Natty’s Reggae-Soul marriage: More revolutionary and progressive than previous releases; it sees our man at the peak of his powers.  Publications and critics have noticed how sharp and focused Natty is.  On his debut album- subsequent releases in-between- there was that promise and originality: If anything Natty sounds more confident and intent than ever.  Perhaps enforced by the dissolving nature of peace- the recent terrorist attacks have influenced a lot of musicians- Natty has stepped-up and penned songs that implore for peace.  Against the forces of malice and repression we need a musician that gives guidance and comfort: Release the Fear is an album that provides an alternate soundtrack to the dislocation of the modern world.  Mixing political messages against traditional unity and hopefulness: A collection of tracks that shows Natty at his very best.  The Rebelship sound even tighter and more authoritative too.  Having gained touring experience and performance galvaisation: This has resulted in music that sounds more nuances and strong than their debut days cuts.  Natty has separated from the big labels and is working on his own brand.  It will be fascinating to see what 2016 holds for him and how Natty evolves: Perhaps a new E.P. or album will arrive later in the year?

I’m Alive is the leading single from Release the Fear.  Tumbling and rainfall guitar notes give a passionate and tender start to a song that instantly makes you smile.  Patterning and intent percussion drives the song forward as it builds and expands into something quite beautiful.  That blissful and inimitable voice comes into the fray as that composition continues to press and compel.  Lyrics see rude boys on the side of the road- there is “music in the air”- as our man celebrates the simplicity of being alive.  Against the turmoil and unpredictability of the modern world, we have a redemptive and transcendent opener that is overtly hopeful and positive.  Spiritual and faith-inspiring; you get smiling faces and a joyous atmosphere.  Kaleidoscopic voices and hand-claps bring the song up to heavingly heights: The listener will be intoxicated by the sweet smoke and embracing sounds Natty offers.  Backed by his brothers-in-arms- who give the song huge warmth and affection- you transport yourself into the song.  Contemporary-sounding- the composition has an element of modern-day Folk- mixes with the spirit of ‘60s Reggae.  Our hero promotes dancing and peace; togetherness and a sense of thanks.  The hero goes out marching by day- dancing the night away- and wants to keep the spirit burning bright.  When the sun comes up we are all going to dance: Such a unique and wonderful message that emanates from the speakers.  The harmony and togetherness is needed in this life: Few people take time to reach out and unify their voices.  Our hero knows people fight to survive and struggle: Let us celebrate the fact we are living and breathing.  It may seem like an a worn-out cliché- a Facebook post that we all see on our timelines- but there is a universal truth to be discovered.  Kicking Release the Fear off with a tremendous track: I’m Alive is as pure and celebratory as any Natty track there has ever been.  A catchy and head-spinning chorus melts with a deliriously sun-seeking composition that makes the most haunted souls feel uplifted and better.

SS I Luv U (Reprise) starts off soft and gentle before becoming racier and more urgent.  Our hero wants to take the people on a trip across the globe.  Continuing the soul-freeing messages of I’m Alive: Here we have a song that perhaps speaks to a sweetheart or lover.  A certain girl may be in his mind and inspiring the words pouring forth.  With his voice entranced and deliciously pure; the track is hugely evocative and nuanced.  Away from the stresses of life- away from time and space itself- there is that need to emigrate and go somewhere warmer and more settled.  Maybe headed to Africa or a Jamaican beach I am not sure: Each listener is given the chance to imagine their own story-line.  Urging rebellion to an extent- forget the bank loans and hassles of everyday life- Natty implores overthrown and fighting the oppression of modern society.  Few people have that strength to just throw the bad things away and find something more positive.  I get embers of Bob Marley and Lee Perry- disparate names that seem to come together here- as Natty’s rich and expressive voice brings huge life to the lyrics.  Killers are on the screen and the world seems like a confusing place.  Channeling the needs and fears of many- wanting to get away from all the violence and upset we see- our hero has his sights on warmer climes.  It is here where perhaps Natty’s voice is at its most flying and uplifting.  Wordless chorusing causes shivers and immense purity as the composition offers racing beats and elliptical strings.  A song that perfectly represents what we face today- the fear and lying that pervades society- every listener will take inspiration from the messages here.  On board his Rebelship, our hero wants to take everyone with him: It’s a trip you are delighted to take.

   Rainclouds begins with a rousing and emotive piano line that puts me in mind of Carole King’s Tapestry: I half-expected to hear I Feel the Earth Move or It’s Too Late play.  Whereas previous tracks have used Reggae-vibed guitars and percussion to kick the songs off: Here we get something more soulful and emotional.  A gorgeous and immersive introduction sounds leads to a pulsing beat- like a heartbeat that gets inside the head- and an urgent vocal.  Natty looks at the generational gaps and misunderstandings.  The older people feel like the young’s (ways) are wrong and “aren’t real”.  Perhaps looking at the war and hatred that is unfolding- how the world is becoming more oppressive and fraught- there is that desire to regress to simpler times.  Maybe this generation is leading the world down a bad path- not employing the ethics and morals of past days- and our man cries for peace.  Bringing some Pop and Electro.-Soul elements into the fold- there are touches of James Blake in the vocals and compositional sound- give the album a new direction and side.  Searching inside his soul; the hero looks up and sees rain clouds: The sun is sorely missing from the sky it seems.  Wanting something more positive and hopeful; you get lost in the building mood and compelling vocal performance.  Perhaps the most heartfelt and affecting vocals on the album: This is a song that sees anxieties and fears brought vividly to life.  Never allowing the song to become morbid and depressive: The backing vocals and insistent beat ensures those Reggae flavours add positivity and dance to the mix.  Presenting important issues and concerns- the world is moving too fast- we all need to take more time out and slow down a bit.  Packing another irresistible and sing-along chorus- that is sure to be shouted by festival crowds across the world- Natty fears the world is becoming too crowded and fast-moving.  We do not take time to “read between the lines” and look out for our fellow man- a vital declaration we should all take note of.

   Streetlights starts with some tenderness before exploding into life.  That fast-paced and charged composition gives the song such urgency and impact.  Our hero waits for his girl to go “downtown” and see the sites.  Purity and passion is at the forefront once more: The desire to take his sweetheart dancing and reconnect with the world around them.  As is familiar in Natty’s songs: There is a fear technology and the modern world is taking away human connection and spirituality.  Few of us take our eyes from phones and social media: If you get out into the world and get back to life; you will get so much more from it.  A racing and frantic vocal shows just how meaningful and important the words are: Streetlights is the album’s most bracing and (perhaps) important moments.  Hard-hitting and swaggering; there is such an immense force and weight to the music.  Once more the vocals are enraptured and highly captivating- the backing vocals are especially commendable- as the song gets stronger and more assured.  The beats and electronics are harder and street-wise than previous numbers- straying away from ‘60s Reggae sounds to offer something more contemporary- that will bring in more young listeners and a wider audience.  Natty offers an intriguing proposition: For one night, let’s rally against convention and change things for the better.  If we pull down the road signs- would people get in their cars? – and disconnect cables would we all still talk?  Perhaps modern life has taken away the joys of simplicity and pure communication.  Inspiring people to sit under the stars and unshackle the constraints of modern life: We are too dependent on unimportant things and rarely reconnect with fellow man.  If we watch the sun rise and “talk about life” it would make things so much better.  Whilst it may be impossible to switch modern life off completely- and lead an almost Aboriginal existence- it is possible to embrace the simpler elements of existence.  A song that is free from cynicism and doubts; you have a musical moment that perfectly represents Natty’s mandates and political ideals.  Few modern artists keep Reggae’s purity and hopefulness alive- there is too much negativity to be heard- so it is refreshing and stunning to hear Natty and the Rebelship burn so fiercely.

Change brings Alborosie and Busy Signal into the mix as the song looks at changes being felt.  The seasons change and pregnancy brings new life into the world.  Everywhere we look there are transformations and reconfigurations to be found.  Bringing in new voices and aspects gives the album some variation and collaborative spirit.  It is wonderful to hear Alborosie and Busy Signal’s varied tones breathe new life into the album.  Whilst Natty is stunning when leading the charge: Change is a good thing and this applies to the music itself.  Whilst not bemoaning the fact things change; the song states obvious facts we cannot ignore.  Change doesn’t come in a day- as the chorus lets it be known- and it is another song that promotes positive thinking and progression.  Whilst the world is not ideal and perfect, we can all affect some change for the better: It may take time but every time the world spins round something changes.  The celebratory horns mix with ruffled beats to give the song such a fervent kick and sense of endeavor.  With new days “on the horizon”, you are spellbound by the fast-flowing vocals and blissful composition.  A song that is perfect for summer festivals and uplifting the crowds: You find yourself captivated by the song’s spirit and start to sing along.  Hardship is attested and brought in: Our leads look to change the world and bring about equal rights.  Politically and socially aware; we have a song that wants to make positive changes in the world.  We need to be patient and embrace the small transformations that occur daily.  It is here where we get one of the most unexpected and mobile compositions.  Ranging from calm and collected lows to rapturous highs; the music stops, starts and swoops: A sensational and wondrous sound that keeps the listener invested and hooked throughout.

Starting with intriguing strings and a slow build: Motherland returns the album to the pure roots of Reggae.  Our man wants to escape the small world and ignite a fire.  Feeling trapped and smothered by the way life moves- the stresses and miseries we all face- the future maybe looks a little hazy.  Being called lazy by some of his friends and contemporaries: It seems like the hero wants to return to Africa and build a protective vest.  Wanting something more homely and familiar, you are caught in a vocal that has such a peaceful purity to it.  Maybe the rabble of British life is causing some anxiety and heartache: Setting his sights back to the homeland you have a soul-baring anthem that has its heart in Babylon.  The composition has a unique voice and charm to it: Slight clatters and odd motifs give the lyrics such a drive and perfect backing.  Supportive vocals give a choir-like/gospel grace to the song and make it such a stunning sense of purpose and pride.  Motherland’s proclamation repeated- this world being small and uncertain- is something that becomes a mission statement for Release the Fear.  We all experience the walls closing in and feeling so insignificant: If we could go anywhere we wanted; we perhaps wouldn’t stay where we are.  I am not sure what Natty’s lineage and heritage is- there are African roots for sure- but there is that need to return to the continent and life a simpler life.  Providing a thought-provoking and sensational centerpiece to the album: Few songs across the record leave such a huge impression.  Its simplicity and memorability ensure that it will be another one of those fan favourite tracks.

Delighted beats and hazy strings welcome Stand Up (In Love) and give the positivity back to the album.  A blackbird is outside Natty’s window: Everything seems pure and beautiful against the site of a new morning.  A merry and transcendent that shows our hero let his voice reign with love.  Whatever happens and wherever he is his girl’s face is right there.  We have all felt the spell and drunken power of a great love: Few artists represent it with such a candid and uplifting sense of wonder.  The celebratory and life-affirming core of Reggae expands and explodes in a song of delight and thanks.  Our boy does not want to control the girl and control: There will be other men but nobody gives her what he does.  Happy and contented in his skin; there’s that comfort and pride that is an irresistible force of nature.  Whereas Motherland was a song that looked inside a haunted soul: Stand Up (In Love) transposes those emotions to give something hugely positive and free from constraints.  Expansive, open and proud you get dragged into the delicious blend of sounds and voices.  A riotous celebration of life’s purity: Here is an anthem that recalls the greatest artists from Reggae’s past.  Natty’s soulful voice gives so much richness and emotion to a song that forces smiles and compels the listener to move their feet.  Such a delightful and festival-like song: Nobody will be able to refute the glory and cheer that comes through in every note.  A short (and very sweet) song that I would definitely recommend as a single release.

King Had a Dream is perhaps the most political moment from the album.  Starting with soft and passionate strings- one of the most memorable and beautiful introductions across Release the Fear– it is stunning to see such an about-face.  After the festivities of the previous number; Natty shows how inventive and diverse he is- each song sounds perfect alongside one another and there is never a sense the album is unfocused and scattershot.  Building from its proud and noble standing: The composition begins to settle to allow the vocal to come.  Our man will be “walking in the street tonight” and evoking the messages of Martin Luther King.  Whilst it may seem like an unrealistic ambition- to connect fully with every human you meet- Natty is determined to give peace and connection a chance.  In a world where there is so much inequality and bigotry we all need to reconnect with people.  London has a reputation for being a little cold and distant- stranger will not talk to one another for example- and perhaps Natty is feeling the pinch.  Affected by the impersonal and inhuman nature of the streets: He needs to feel like humanity can rule again and change the world.  Sitting alongside a hero of his; Natty wants to fly across the U.S. (and the world) and follow those immense footsteps.  If one man can do so much for the world- his effect and leadership affected huge change- our London hero wants to make changes too.  That nature of change and betterment are themes that keep coming through across Release the Fear.  Representing the voices of people everywhere- who feel like they cannot effect movement and improvement- Natty stands tall and sets his gaze across the globe.  With a child’s voice adding to the poignancy and inter-generational togetherness- not sure if it is Natty’s child on record- you have emotion and beauty that is impossible to escape.  Natty wants to see Babylon’s brotherly spirit and peace emit its bliss across the world.  Natty dreams of a time when guns are silenced and hosepipes are turned off- against innocent people and protesters.  Everyone from John Lennon to Bob Dylan has yearned for a world that promotes peace and love: Will we ever live to see a day when it becomes a reality?  While there may be rampant gun violence across the U.S. and other parts: The hero is fed up with the bloodshed and hatred that we see on the news on a weekly basis.

  Gaia is a surprise little beauty that fades in and instantly evokes something hugely uplifting.  The sun is on the horizon and there is moonshine “in our eyes”.  Immediately our hero feels “high” and holy: Up there in the sky here is another song that sees our lead caught in the blizzard of purity and love.  Perhaps entranced by a new love and connection- a girl is definitely in the mind- you cannot help but get lost in a song that channels such positivity and affection.  Gorgeous guitar licks and rousing brass gives the Soul-cum-Reggae blends such a conviction and nuance.  “You got to summon up the spirit now” is repeated like a bellicose chorus: Imploring people to look inside themselves and be who they are meant to be.  Too many people are limited and confined because of life: Here is a song that brings back the early days glory of Eddie Grant, Curtis Mayfield and Bob Marley.  On some album tracks that is such a modern vibe and contemporary relatability: Songs that will appeal to young listeners and chart-hungry music fans.  On Gaia you have a song that will resonate more with older/wiser listeners: Those that have affection for Reggae and are familiar with its golden history.  Contrasting these tastes and diversity across the album does not make it weaker or suffer:  There’s a distinct consistency and personality that comes across in every song.  Was the album too samey and one-directional you would be bored after the half-way mark: As it is Natty ensures every track offers something unique and daring.

Things I’ve Done is a penultimate track that begins with a skip and echoed introduction.  Part-moody, part-skipping; you are fascinated to hear what will come next.  Growing and flowering by the second it is one of the most intriguing and assured introductions on the album.  Natty wants his child to listen to the story with an “open heart and mind”.  The best of him; the hero is given strength because he is a lover and father.  Having been living blind, he now “wants to see”.  Ills and crimes of the past have been a black mark that he is trying to erase.  Confessional and open; you have a song that shows the scars and is impressively earnest.  Natty wants to redeem himself to an extent and get absolution.  With that voice raw and direct the song will get inside the head and make every listener reflect.  Perhaps life throws obstacles and challenges to Natty: The way he dealt with some of them are not to be applauded.  Lies and heartache sit alongside fights and running with the boys.  A soldier “fighting for his life”; Natty needs his girl by his side- a compatriot that can help make his life better.  Few artists tend to put their soul out there in such an affecting way: Things I’ve Done is perhaps Release the Fear’s most open and personal statement from a man trying to better himself.  Once more you get some wonderful backing vocals and wonderful set of lyrics.  Amazingly consistent and focused, the composition once more stands aside: Such a wonderful thing, you get gentility and tenderness among something much more flowing and ramshackle.  Tying all the heartache, concerns and apologies together: Natty shows what a pure and open soul he has and how he is willing to make up for the mistakes of the past.

George the Poet- a London-born Spoken Word genius- comes to join Natty on the final track.  The title track gets underway with passionate strings and a real positive mood.  Cool-edged and intent; Natty looks at the sun and sea early on: Wanting to wash away his sins there is that need for improvement and shedding old skin.  There is uncertainty to be heard- not sure what is below or above- but that need to release the fear is paramount.  Perhaps the past has been a struggle and there have been too many setbacks: Now our lead has ambitions to the horizon.  “Ships go by without a sound” and feet are planted to the ground.  Our hero might be too timid to dive in and grab life by the shoulders.  Here we see a musician that is castigating past hesitancy and embracing a more daring way of life.  It doesn’t matter what has happened in the past- quite a set of stories to hear I am sure- but the focus is on the present.  Wanting to be a better man and see more of the world: The entire album’s themes are concentrated and reflected on a song that ends things with a massive high.  So relaxed and controlled, it is a song that seeps into the soul and rattles around the head.  George the Poet adds impressive backing that ensures the song always has that immediacy and quality throughout.  Embracing his faith and escaping the fear: Natty seems at peace and completely dedicated to what is to come.  Perhaps signaling new music and direction- will we see another release this year? – perhaps there will be less anxiety and more positivity across a new record.  Transcending from a boy to a man; you feel that evolution and growth as the song comes to its close.  George the Poet adds his vocals to give narration: There is a lot we can’t control; George is a pastor that gives guidance and pure truth.  It will be exciting to see where this energy and inspiration takes Natty next.  If Release the Fear’s title track points in any direction it is this: Plenty of life-affirming music will come.  Being the longest track on the album- a 10-minute symphony that is a masterclass in expression and motivation- you get Jazz calm (embers of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue) sits with experimental Reggae and Soul.  It stands as the album’s highlight because it carries its weight and potency from beginning to end.  The extended and inspired composition gives so much weight and atmosphere to a track that constantly drives and aims for a higher truth.  Being a Miles Davis fan I love the Jazz interludes and that evocation of Kind of Blue/Birth of the Cool.  The song dips and rises to give it unexpectedness and mystery to the final bars.  Growing in intensity and motivation; no listener will be able to step away: Hooked into the drama and busy composition that becomes more wonderful by the moment.

Such a confident and spectacular album we have here: Natty and the Rebelship have created their finest work to date and album that deserves an immense amount of attention.  Whilst some media sources have already added their words- and proclaimed its wonder and influence- I was amazed by how deep, varied and consistent the album is.  Already marking itself as one of 2016’s finest albums; Natty has evolved as an artist and is at his most assured and confident.  He has scars and doubts but wants to (and everyone else) to embrace peace and come together.  Release the Fear is an album whose heart lies in the Reggae days of the 1960s: Where there was hope for change and a need to overthrow negativity and oppression through the medium of song.  By no means a distant relative or weaker thing: Release the Fear sounds like it could have been created by Reggae legends of the time.  Ensuring the music mixes in contemporary edges- collaborators and the production values- you have a work from an artist that is among the world’s most impressive and peerless writers.  Few artists are doing what he does- fewer do it as well- and that is to be applauded.  I know Natty will be touring this year and that will be great to see: So many of the tracks are destined to be sung by crowds and get people united.  That is the purpose of the album: Inspire people and get them to think more deeply about the world around them.  Anything that strives for that- and achieves it with ease- should be promoted and shared far and wide.  Let’s hope the media promulgate a work of bliss that deserves to be heard by everyone.

Release the Fear follows from where Man Like I left off: Expanding on that debut promise we have a sophomore release that burns with strength, courage and a call for unity.  Having found myself focusing on bands and solo artists- who play similar sounds- it is great to discover something genuinely new and fresh.  I am a fan of the legendary Reggae artists like Bob Marley.  I love the ‘60s and ‘70s revolutionary acts that paved the way for modern Reggae as it is.  If you take those ‘90s Reggae artists- Aswad among them- they may not have the same reputation and respect as the forefathers of the genre.  Perhaps the heyday of Reggae was during the ‘60s and ‘70s: I feel there is a perfect opportunity to reignite the form and get our modern-day representatives in the spotlight.  It is true there is an inequality and ignorance when it comes to Reggae: Few mainstream sources promote it and people are missing out on something wonderful.  Leading the vanguard; the likes of Natty and the Rebel Ship are showing just what can be achieved.  Among those hypnotic and universal messages are compositions that bring in so many ideas and wonderful touches.  If you were to name three British Reggae artists, you might have the hardest task: There are so many great acts that are struggling to get their name heard.  Maybe it is an issue that will never be rectified.  For now, we have an inspirational musician that is among Britain’s most promising young Reggae artists.  Bringing in Soul and Pop together- to give his Future Roots gospels depth and beauty- it is impossible to ignore the quality and nuance of the music.  Those tunes strike you when you first hear them: The positive messages and stunning performances get straight into the soul.  Upon further listens you discover new insights and layers: Music that demands devoted attention and fond consideration.  For people who prefer their music with upbeat messages and positive ambitions, then look no further.  Natty and the Rebel Ship have already toured some of this country’s big festivals- Glastonbury and Secret Garden Party among them- and joined Ziggy Marley on the U.S. stage.  Radio stations like Radio 1 and 2 have latched onto an artist of immense talent: Our hero has performed on Later… with Jools Holland into the bargain.  No mean feat for a musician that has not been performing all that long- compared to a lot of the legends of music.

It just goes to show what the music does to people: That peerless quality and ubiquitous songbook has been taken to heart by so many people.  It is sad when an artist- clearly adored and respected in music circles- does not get quite the same recognition as lesser contemporaries.  Natty has a great reputation and let’s hope Release the Fear does just that: Critics and radio stations need to stop being hesitant and celebrate Reggae a lot more.  Even if you are not a big fan of the genre; you cannot deny how effective and lovable Natty’s music it: It transcends boundaries and does not confine itself to aficionados.  Bringing the likes of George the Poet into the throng: Natty has created an album that has contemporary relevance but harks back to the glory days of Reggae.  Those revolution messages of the ’60s are given fresh voice by an artist who wants to change things for the better.  The messages of unity and hope-against-adversity are commodities not often traded in the modern scene: We all need to embrace a musician who is offering positivity against a backdrop of uncertainty.  Were it just skin-deep- the lyrics captured the imagination to an extent- it may be hard to fully embrace the music on offer.  Natty’s distinct and soul-calming voice adds another dimension: Throw in a kinetic and mesmeric band performance and you have yet another side to the music.  Compositions that unify Soul and African sounds into a boiling bot of headiness and transcendent smoke: A recipe that is going to give a flavourless scene the spice and sugar it sorely needs.  Natty has grown in confidence and ability since his debut album- that was assured and fantastic anyway- and the extensive touring has brought in new collaborators and influences.  Release the Fear is such a solid and wonderful listen because the band have been performing together extensively throughout 2015.  That well-rehearsed and traveled sound means the songs are alive and stunning throughout: There are no loose ends and weak performances to be heard on the album.  I know 2016 will be a bumper year for the London hero.  Having gained the backing of mainstream stations and festivals; it is only a matter of time before his music gains acolytes and disciples.  There are a lot of up-and-coming Reggae/Soul artists looking for a chance to shine and get their voice heard.  Perhaps looking for an icon they can follow: Natty is an artist that will lead a charge and see Reggae get the recognition it deserves.  Paradigm-shifting and progressive; we have a rare talent that should be given a lot more attention.  It is only left for me to implore people to get Release the Fear upon its release.  Few albums arrive that take the negativeness and fears of the world and reconfigure them into something positive and comforting.  There are fears and anxieties to be heard on the album- as Natty looks at the broken world around him- but the encouragement of unity and togetherness is an impressive and much-needed injection.  For those looking for music that provides direction and purity then look no further.  If you want an artist that has long-term potential and a wonderful vision…

 

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Follow Natty and the Rebelship

 

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https://nattymusic.com/

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Music:

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One thought on “ALBUM REVIEW: Natty and the Rebelship- Release the Fear

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