Album Review: Gramps Morgan - Positive Vibration
by Gardy Stein
"I want our music to transport all of us to the beach, sipping rum from a pineapple… an album dedicated to the 'Islander' in all of us." (Gramps Morgan)
Summer is here, and the islander in us wants to be taken to the beach for waves, sand, sunshine... and music! With his new album Positive Vibration, Gramps Morgan provides the perfect soundtrack for such a day at the ocean. His first solo project in 9 years brings us 15 feel-good tracks produced by Scottish-Canadian country musician Johnny Reid, recorded in Gramps' chosen home Nashville and in Toronto.
This unusual background is clearly audible throughout the album, both in instrumentation and riddim. While the basis is Reggae, of course (from the powerful first and title track Positive Vibration and the subsequent If You're Looking For Me to the calm final entry All About Love), influences of country and soul music found their way into many, if not most pieces - a fresh approach merging distant but related genres. Take Water In My Whiskey, for instance, or Float Ya Boat, a fun combination with Shaggy that almost invites for a Line Dance.
Other guests on the release are the fantastic India.Arie who joins Gramps in the soulful ballad Paradise, "the Rum Boss" Lybran on Rumnesia as well as the three-generation hymn Secret To Life. Featuring Gramps' son Jemere and daddy Denroy, the three Morgans talk about the importance of living in the moment: "The secret to life is taking it one day at a time, keeping it simple with a smile".
Shifting up a gear or two, Runaway Bay, Islander, The Peacock and Conkytonk will definitely leave you with a smile and make your dancing feet itch. With lyrics ranging from feeling homesick to adapting to "island time" to learning the newest dance move, the Positive Vibration proclaimed in the album's title is omnipresent; just the explicit focus on Rum and drinks is a little too much for my taste, given that alcoholism is a dangerous addiction that shouldn't be glorified.
Something that we all can agree on, though, is the dream of winning the lottery and "making it big", a dream formulated in Money. To introduce some of the instrumentalists who have lent their skills to the album and made it such an organic whole, on this track we hear Tyler Cain on guitar and keyboard, Chris Meredith on bass, Tommy Harden on drums and percussion as well as Jason Roller on acoustic guitar (he also plays ukulele and banjo on some of the other tracks).
Love sweet love is a subject present in A Woman Like You, My Love and the above-mentioned All About Love. The laid-back tempo and emotional content of these songs is the ideal playground for Gramps' warm, vibrant vocals. "My hope is that through this music we can bring people together that wouldn’t normally come together and spread more love along the way," Gramps says about Positive Vibration, and indeed the album is a unique mixture of Reggae and Country that will bring Reggae music to the attention of Country lovers and vice versa. It might not be the right pick for those who seek profundity and spiritual or socio-critical content, but it sure is a fine summer companion, celebrating the joy of being alive. Add to that the top-notch production quality, it is a sonic pleasure to listen to from A to Z - a release worthy of a Morgan!
Gramps Morgan - Positive Vibration
DIGITAL RELEASE [Halo Entertainment Group]
Release date: 07/23/2021
01. Positive Vibration
02. If You're Looking For Me
03. Float Ya Boat feat. Shaggy
04. Water In My Whiskey
05. Paradise feat. India.Arie
06. A Woman Like You
07. Secret To Life feat. Jemere & Denroy Morgan
09. Rumnesia feat. Lybran (Rum Boss)
11. My Love
12. The Peacock
15. All About Love