Inner Exile
Lee Everton
Rootdown - Soulfood Music
October 5, 2007 (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) / February 15, 2008 (Worldwide)

Track list
  1. I Feel Like Dancing
  2. You Ain't Good To Me No More
  3. Inner Exile
  4. King Vapor
  5. So Proud Of You
  6. Bring It On Home To Me
  7. Cold Wind Blow
  8. April
  9. Genova
  10. Won't Keep Knocking
  11. Comfort Me
  12. Down To The River
  13. I Ain't Got No Home
  14. Slingstyle Music
  15. Come Closer To Me
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 4 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
Zürich, Switzerland based Lee Everton is the first English language artist who has been added to Rootdown Records' artist roster that already contained artists like Nosliw, Mono & Nikitaman, Nattyflo and Maxim. Lee Everton instead of using (Rootdown Records' co-founder and in house producer Thilo 'Teka' Jacks') established roots (or dancehall) riddims creates his own riddim style, the 'Slingstyle Riddim'. This 'Slingstyle' approach is the foundation for the backing of his singer-songwriter reggae, leaving lots of space for his beautiful melodies and intense lyrics on this extremely pressing debut album "Inner Exile". From his early teenage days Lee Everton has been fascinated by black music, searching for the right song and the perfect sound he traveled to Jamaica when he was 18 to spend a year at the Jamaican School of Music in Kingston. The sessions with musicians from all over the Caribbean had a lasting impact on him. Working later at the Quad Recording Studios in NYC he assisted sessions with Alicia Keys, Kanye West and Celia Cruz. Only recently he attended a workshop for songwriters in Los Angeles where he met successful songwriter Penny Framstad who offered him to coach him on two of his songs, a chance he took gladly. Turning point in his life however was a car accident that he survived mainly uninjured but which made him more reflective and sensitive. With all these experiences under his belt he started experimenting with new riddims trying to create a new own sound that he new found in his 'Slingstyle' approach that is prominently featured on this "Inner Exile", that has now received a worldwide release after its initial release in Germany, Austria and Switzerland 4 months ago.

The wonderful opening track "I Feel Like Dancing" which has already made it onto the playlists of Switzerland's two major radio stations is a great plea to the girl that makes Lee happy, with an absolutely smashing rocksteady-like solo guitar played by the late Matias 'Maze' Salami, one of the musicians Lee Everton worked with for this album, the others being Alexis 'Singha Dee' Amitirigala, Leon 'Mandela' Duncan, Adrian Weyermann, Roman Bruderer, The Interruptor, The Kung Fu Horns, Pat Zihlmann and the Scrucialists followed by Lee singing about the absolutely opposite emotions in "You Ain't Good To Me No More" and the mystic titletrack "Inner Exile". There is, as often the case with reggae singer-songwriters (check e.g. Patrice and Martin Jondo), undeniably something pleasing Marley-esque in the delivery and backing, that sipples through on almost every tune, be it the ones above or very intense in "King Vapor" following these.

The truly sweet current single "So Proud Of You" (with "I Feel Like Dancing" on the flipside) is followed by Lee Everton's take on the Animals' "Bring It On Home To Me" from 1965, fully embedded in Lee's own Slingstyle and yet preserving some of the bluesy feeling of the original. "Cold Wind Blow" is the heartfelt song written October 2006 for Matias 'Maze' Salami, who passed away unexpectedly just little more than a year ago on September 22, 2006 at the age of 29(!), followed by "April" of which the backing with its wobbly bass brings back memories especially in the intro but throughout the whole tune of Lee Perry's riddim for Junior Murvin's "Police And Thieves" and another tune for someone deceased "Genova", written in the aftermath of the G8 manifestation in Genova in Italy in 2001 when a young demonstrator died.

Back to the love gone wrong lyrics for the melancholic "Won't Keep Knocking" before the very soulful "Comfort Me" with its subdued horns completely overwhelms you despite its laidback riddim and delivery, followed by the soothing "Down By The River" in which Lee himself is the one offering solace. The rather upful backing of "I Ain't Got No Home" reveals that this tune is not about the hardships but about the pleasures of being a wanderer, before Lee Everton explains how to do it (as in making love, not his musical style) in "Slingstyle Music" before closing this album with the smashing "Come Closer To Me" that will for sure - despite its totally different lyrics and melody - because of its backing make everyone think of Bob Marley & the Wailers' "No Woman No Cry". Lee Everton's "Inner Exile" is wonderful reggae singer-songwriter debut album and he is a very welcome extension of Rootdown Records stable. This album will surely convince a lot of listeners to buy it.