Live Love Stay Up
Roots Musician Records
June 6, 2015
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4||Backing : 4||Production : 4||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 5|
Over the past few years, E.N Young has carved out a deep spot for himself in the reggae scene. After the debut of his first album, "Luck & Chance No More" in 2010, he has since joined forces with Tribal Seeds as a full-time member, built up the presence of his label, Roots Musician Records, and stayed busy recording bands at Imperial Sound, his studio in San Diego. E.N says he's been listening to reggae from a young age, and he's known for integrating the melodica, an instrument used in traditional roots reggae, back into modern music. It took him four years to put out another solo album of his own, "Live Love Stay Up", complete with regular, dub and acoustic versions of each song in triple-album format. The songs were recorded and produced at Imperial Sound Recording Studio in San Diego by E.N himself. The release date of January 20th 2015 marks the beginning of an exciting year for E.N and his fans.
"Live Love Stay Up" is not lacking in any department. Production-wise, it's on the complex, layered side of the spectrum. There are plenty of horns, harmonies, and full-sounding effects, without sounding overly complicated. E.N's style can be compared to the modern Jamaican sound. His vocals are relaxed and dreamy, and his tone and lyrics convey a calm and wise perspective. The melodica is an instrument you'll hear often throughout the album.
The regular studio version of the album has stand-out tracks that are catchy. "Inspiration" (feat. Maad T-Ray) and "Overpowering Blessed Love" (feat. Tribal Seeds) are hard-hitting. "Eye Of The Storm" is fast-paced, brought in with E.N's signature dreamy "whoa-oh-ohs". The drum and bass are heavy in these three tracks, making for great dub versions. E.N shows his romantic side in "Be Back Real Soon" and "Love Love Love", the first with sensual saxophone, the latter with feel-good ukulele. Another romantic one, "Never Leave Your Side" (feat. Gonzo), is the only track I don't care for in any version, because to me, the melody and lyrics seem too generic.
E.N is great at spiritual topics, especially in "Creation Rebel", which contemplates the universe and our purpose within it. E.N uses a chanting vocal style, and the effect is meditative. The roots of reggae are also kept alive in "Live" (feat. Ooklah the Moc, Kali Navales & Father Psalms), as the song re-uses the classic "Swing Easy" riddim. The outcome is a success. Kali Navales hits high notes in that song and takes you on an upward journey to Mount Zion.
The dub version of the release stands alone as a great album. E.N knows how to use traditional methods of echo and time-based delays with heavy drum and bass. He adds his modern twist on tracks like "Blessed DuB", using robot-like vocal distortions and space-y effects. Other stand-out dubs are "Live DuB", and "Stay Up DuB", a version that I like more than the original, since the intricate layers are stripped to allow the rootsy foundation to come forward. At times, E.N will make his dubs come at you strong, then ease up at the right moments. The majority of them are upbeat, and they make for a great addition to the album release, whether you're listening to each one alone or with the triple-album on shuffle. If I had a preference, it would be for E.N to take out more of the modern-rock guitar, and leave things even more drum and bass-y.
The acoustic album is not the acoustic you might expect. Since E.N's primary instruments are keys and drums, the acoustic versions are mostly piano-driven. They are stripped-down with the bass taken out, allowing the strong melodies on the original songs to carry the tunes along. I enjoy the rootsy skank on "Inspiration (Acoustic)", "Live (Acoustic)", a long with the tribal hand drums that come forward on "Creation Rebel (Acoustic)". In each version of "Love Love Love" the original melody and simple chord progression makes it solid and unstoppable. In "Overpowering Blessed Love (Acoustic)", E.N removes the Tribal Seeds vocals, replacing them with a piano solo. It's interesting to hear piano-driven reggae songs, and I like what E.N is going for.
Overall, you can expect each version of "Live Love Stay Up" to be rootsy, and heavily influenced in the Jamaican roots sound more than reggae-rock. E.N's strengths are his positive messages and top-notch production skills. The track lengths are ideal, and the regular album passes quickly, so it was smart to add dub and acoustic versions. I encourage everyone to give the whole triple-album a listen and see which versions you enjoy the most.
Review courtesy of Kayla Kush and The Pier.