Album review
Lovely Life
The Solution
The Solution-Irie Records
June 1, 2004

Tracking list

  1. Praise The Father
  2. No Political Solution
  3. Hot Fire feat. Kevin
  4. Precious Time
  5. Lovely Life
  6. Open Up Your Eyes
  7. Beware
  8. Running Up & Down
  9. Cool Iya
  10. Beautiful Day feat. Kevin
  11. Go To Spain (Spain Anthem) feat. Bert Heerink
  12. Bloody Mission
  13. Babylon feat. Kevin
  14. Dutty Roots
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

Vocals : 3/4 Backing : 4 Production : 4/5 Sound quality : 4/5 Sleeve : 5

"Lovely Life" is the second album, distributed by Münster's (Germany) Irie Records, of the border-crossing (literally) roots outfit The Solution. With members born on and still residing on both sides of the German-Dutch border around the Dutch town of Winterswijk, this album shows the expansion from the original 6 piece band that recorded their debutalbum "We Got To Be Free" to the current 9 men lineup - with the addition on top of the 9 of two strong female backing vocalists (Nanny von de Laar & Marije Mutter), and featuring the Wicked Horns (who were featured in a concertview of Out Of Many, the band founded by these 3 hornsmen at a recent Reggae Road Block) - has benefited their sound a lot. The opener "Praise The Father" shows what this band is about. A late 70s early 80s sound, but the sound is crisp, and not completely free of modern (Jamaican) influences. Often bringing in a rock/pop guitar, think of the late 70s Bob Marley and the Wailers albums, but also thanks to their excellent harmonies, keep in mind early Misty In Roots. This same vibe is kept throughout the second tune "No Political Solution", showing their originals are conscious, without falling into the trap (especially often occurring with non-native English/patois speakers) of lyrics containing only commonplaces. "Hot Fire" is in the same vein, rock guitar solo, beautiful female harmonies, nice lyrics, only the voice of Kevin Winde is not quite my cup of tea. In "Precious Time" it is shown clearly (as throughout the whole album) how excellent the Wicked Horns contribute to the overall sound, and what a fine singer Sidney Chirino is, not only in the roots tunes, but in this lovers tune as well, in which the guitar is restricted to (to my ears much finer) jazz picking solo. "Lovely Life" is the studio version of the upful song, but with the live-intro as played at the Spanish Tarifa reggae festival including audience noise mixed in as intro to it. The fresh intro to "Open Up Your Eyes" shows how wonderful the arrangements of the music by engineer and coproducer Roy Entink are, and how close the sound reaches here for Misty In Roots at times, with the addition to it of a beautiful Spanish flavored acoustic guitar solo. "Beware", "Running Up & Down" and "Cool Iya" maintain the 'fresh roots' mood, the first spiced up with dancehall influences, the second with an uptempo feel with a starring role for the Wicked Horns and the third with modern German roots influences, on which the voice of Pierre 'Mango Juice' Hoppenkamps, who is in my opinion (like earlier mentioned guest singer Kevin Winde, who leads on the next "Beautiful Day" - misspelt with an extra 'l' on the cover) not the great vocalist Sydney Chirino is, is on lead. On "Go To Spain (Spain Anthem)", a tribute to the country the band obviously likes a lot (which might be related to the reception they got at the Tarifa Festival) the leadvocals are done by guest vocalist Bert Heerink, former singer of worldfamous Dutch hardrock band Vandenberg of "Burning Heart" fame, and currently vocalist in symfo group Kayak, as well as singer in 1995 of the hitsingle "Juli July". And he does an amazingly great reggae tune. "Bloody Mission" features Sydney going conscious again, and on "Babylon" with its early Aswad instrumentation Kevin Winde revenges himself in my opinion, and suddenly is 'at it' for me. "Dutty Roots" features the didgeridoo of 2nd percussionist, manager and most important the excellent artwork's designer Christian Homann over hand-drumming during one minute before a 3 minutes silence is broken by the Nyahbinghi with jazzy guitar chant of "Open Up Your Eyes" that brings this very entertaining roots album from my own Dutch (and German) soil to an end.