September 22, 2015
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 5|
In the past three years or so, Reggae songstress Miriam Simone has whet our musical appetite with singles such as "Disappointed" and "You Know How To Love", both produced by Jamaican producer Bobby 'Digital' Dixon, "Dem A Chat", "Take A Second", "Rivers", "Purify My Soul", "Give Thanks And Praise", the collaboration with Lutan Fyah called "His Kingdom Arise", and her contributions for juggling projects like "The Letter Riddim" ("Quality Time"), "Four Seasons Riddim" ("Protect Me") and "Honour Riddim" ("Weh Mi Money Deh").
Hailing from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and now resident in Surinam, Miriam Simone not only is a very talented vocalist, but also a songwriter, composer and co-owner of a record label. Influenced by Gospel, Soul and Reggae music, she started to sing at a very young age. Barely in her teens she sang with several bands and church choirs in Amsterdam, before she joined a Dutch group called Dredda Youthz, with whom she rocked on several tunes that were major hits in Surinam. One of these songs was entitled "Uma No Krey". This was merely the beginning of Miriam Simone's music career. In 2010, she launched her solo career, and also co-founded the music label Dredda Records. In July 2012, she released her debut EP entitled "Follow My Dreams", which included the aforementioned singles, "Disappointed" and "You Know How To Love", the latter done in collaboration with Fyakin.
And now, three years after the release of her debut EP, Miriam Simone comes up with her first full length studio album entitled "Mount Zion". Besides the previously released tunes "Give Thanks And Praise", Weh Mi Money Deh, "Rivers", and "His Kingdom Arise", this collection contains brand new material for the heart and soul. Besides being a good vocalist, Miriam Simone also knows how to write lyrics that keep you involved, no room for superfluous or meaningless phrases in her songs. The album opener and title track "Mount Zion" is an anthemic roots tune that instantly makes clear that you are listening to an effort from a major talent. It's followed by two spiritual songs, "Give Thanks And Praise" and "I Am Blessed". Both tunes, underpinned by sublime played modern roots riddims, match the album opener and thus are also worth hearing more than once.
The conscious "It Isn't Easy" and the love song "Rasta Love" are decent efforts, real nice to listen to. But then there's Miriam Simone's jaunty rendition of Nina Simone's single "My Baby Just Cares For Me" from 1958 (originally sung by Eddie Cantor in the 1930 musical "Whopee"), which is a true tribute to the legendary jazz virtuoso. The acoustic "No Place Like Home" gives a good impression of Miriam Simone's vocal abilities, while "I Am Love" is an intriguing and classy song. The powerful "His Kingdom Arise", with both Miriam Simone and Lutan Fyah in real good shape, marks the start of a very strong last part of the album. The moving reality tune "What A Sight" and the single "Weh Mi Money Deh" show that this songstress is able to seemingly effortless adjust her vocal style to the riddim she has to handle. The album is rounded off in an impressive way with the beautiful message tune "Mother Earth", the thought-provoking "Why" and the excellent "Rivers". The latter is an environmentally conscious/social commentary, delivered in such a way that it urges the listener to soak up all she has to say and put it on repeat.
All in all well worth investing both time and money into this well produced and thoroughly enjoyable collection of tunes.