Words Of Jah
Natural Roots
Heartbeat Europe
June 17, 2012

Words of Jah - Natural Roots Track list
  1. Words Of Jah
  2. If It Ain't Natural
  3. New Tree
  4. Righteous Woman
  5. Deep Roots
  6. For My Sensi
  7. Trod On
  8. This Morning
  9. Lion In The Sun
  10. Like Rasta Far I
  11. Natural High
  12. Free And Natural
  13. Lion Dub
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Essential -Votes: 19-
Very Good -Votes: 1-
Good -Votes: 4-
Average -Votes: 0-
Disappointing -Votes: 0-
A Waste Of Time -Votes: 1-

Total votes : 25
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4 Backing : 4 Production : 4 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
Natural Roots is an original roots reggae band coming from Salt Lake City, Utah, where they originated in 2004. The band members have their cultural roots planted firmly in the South Pacific Islands. Lead singer and lyricist Jan "Mailevai" van der Beek is from New Zealand (although his name indicates he's Dutch) with other members coming from Tonga and Samoa as well as the USA. Esi Lautaimi plays bass guitar and does backing vocals while brothers Fisi and Rayray Tu'atonga play keyboards (also doing backing vovals) and drums. Suau'u "AJ" Auelua plays rhythm guitar with Vito Perry on lead guitar. Mike Bishop is on saxophone.

It has taken the band over two years to complete their "Words Of Jah" album, for which they have signed a deal with European record label Heartbeat Europe (CRS). Some of the songs included here were written as far back as eight years ago. Throughout the years their sound has evolved and the lineup has changed, but they have always continued to write songs with meaning and purpose as can be fully witnessed when listening to the tracks of this album (the sleeve inlay also features the lyrics of all the songs).

American roots reggae bands often have a typical sound (you either love or hate) with mostly dominating synth sounds and cutting rock guitar solos, but luckily Natural Roots doesn't fall into this category. Besides a great sounding drum & bass section, the listener is treated to an enchanting rhythm guitar, nice keyboard sounds, and real horns, which is always a pleasure to hear. The vocal delivery of Jan "Mailevai" van der Beek isn't really exciting, but in combination with the backing vocals he sounds solid throughout.

Things get started with the title track "Words Of Jah", a tune that was inspired by a tragic incident at Lucky Dube's last concert in Utah, when a young Polynesian man was shot by another Polynesian man. The song relates to all of the race-on-race crime that is happening worldwide. After the solid album opener, the listener is treated to 11 vocal tracks with themes that deal with reality, culture and love. Especially worth hearing are the moving "New Tree", with an opening reminiscent of Bob Marley's "War", the surprising "Trod On", the great "Like Rasta Far I", and the meaningful "Deep Roots", which expresses that "the deeper you are rooted in the important things in life, the stronger you will be".

A very mature debut album from a much promising reggae band!