Marcus Gad ADD
Album Review: Marcus Gad & Tribe - Ready For Battle
by Gardy Stein
Get ready for battle! Get ready to fight for our planet, for humanity, for the rights of our brothers and sisters, to fight against the ever-growing power of multinational companies, against corrupt leaders and against the privatization of precious resources such as water. We all should know by now that the time of talking, of "wait and see", of hesitation is up: the time of action is here! It is artists like Marcus Gad that make us aware of the absolute necessity of a shift in our global consciousness, and his new album Ready For Battle is no exception to his well-established mindset of spiritual growth, material minimalism and environmental protection.
Working with the France-based band Tribe since 2017, both for live shows and in studio, the New Caledonian singer has again relied on their incredible musicianship (Jean Hoareau on drums, Franck Paulin on keys, Nicolas Duchamp and Raphaël Baldy on guitar, David Garcia on bass as well as Clément "Tamal" Thouard on production and mix) for the realization of this project, his fourth studio album after Chanting (2017), Rhythm Of Serenity (2020) and Brave New World (2021). They recorded the fourteen songs as in the olden days: playing together, simultaneously, not on individual tracks as is the norm in studios today. This procedure lends an organic quality to the whole release, a coherent warmth and live sensation emanating from the music, which would make you feel relaxed and at ease if it wasn't for the urgency provided by the lyrics.
In comparison to Gad's previous works, the overall pace here is faster, pushier. Starting with the unsettling alarm bells in the beginning of the title track, we are kept on our toes throughout the album, both in terms of the words calling for action and of the dynamic instrumentals played. Long Term and Jericho Walls, for instance, come on Ska-infused riddims that not only make room for the singer's voice to unfold, but also for several instrumental soli. A certain militancy can also be felt in Stop Making Problems which talks directly to the leaders of this world, however it also stresses the non-violent nature of the protest: "And even though we mash dem wicked system, Rasta would a never pull a trigger pon dem!" Even Seeking A Vision, which has a rather calm bassline (and glorious brass!), gains momentum from the drums as well as the driving guitar and piano skanks.
Of course, the deceleration so typical for this artist finds its place as well, as songs like The Levee, Sometimes (sweet detail: the oohed harmonies) and False Prophets attest. Especially the latter commands our attention by that plain power so typical for timeless tunes: a simple, repetitive bassline to which all other instruments align, as well as a clear message delivered with this unique voice that sets Marcus Gad apart from average singers.
Speaking of clear messages: the album is replete with suggestions as to which course of action we should take to really make a change, most of which revolve around the agency each one of us can activate in our daily lives. Forward, for instance, calls on those who have been quiet so far to wake up: "Awake, mighty children, awake, the silent ones must awake!", while Mind Power (which includes talking drums and some fine dub elements) tells us to "Use your Mind Power! Everyone a got it…" Taking stock of mankind's dealings with Mother Earth, Reflexion reminds us that "Humanity must be the keeper of all there is above and under." – and what a mess we've made of this mission so far!
As if to provide a counterbalance to the critique thus expressed, Marcus Gad includes songs that acknowledge the many good things we have achieved (and continue to achieve) on a daily basis, all over the world. The beautiful Blessed Be The Love starts like a gospel, accompanied by piano and organ alone before turning into a heavy-weight roots drop, and praises the spirit of love and gratitude that can be felt in positive human interactions and in our communication with the divine. A definite highlight (and my personal favorite) is Long Way Home – its uplifting chords and tempo, the bright brass, the perfect pitch and flow of the vocals and harmonies as well as the lyrics, painting vivid pictures of the New Caledonian paradise the singer calls home, make it a stand-out track to which the accompanying visuals also contribute in no small measure. Realized by hood.mov, both Long Way Home and Ready For Battle, the first video released, highlight the beauty of this far-away island, and the singer's often extolled affinity to nature and natural living becomes clearly evident (also, if I'm not mistaken, the latter shows the artistic creation of the album cover). A clever concept underlies two other videos: in Seeking A Vision, we see Marcus Gad collecting plants, drying, studying and experimenting with them in a candle-lit laboratory, while the herbal essence thus extracted is consumed in the subsequent video Change, and… well, get ready for some crazy things happening!
Ready For Battle is a call to arms for all of us, not by using weapons, but by using mankind's greatest gift and potential: our minds. Starting out individually, we must take responsibility for our actions to reach a collective change for the better. Yes, it is tedious to scrutinize every article we purchase (Where does it come from? How was it manufactured? Is it fair, locally, and environmentally friendly produced? Do I really need this?), but it is exactly these small contributions every one of us must make to really achieve change, step by step. With their new release, Marcus Gad and Tribe once more succeeded in fusing this social consciousness with outstanding music that, despite the at times hard-to-digest lyrics, makes for a wonderful listening experience.
Marcus Gad & Tribe - Ready For Battle
DIGITAL RELEASE [Baco Records]
Release date: 02/10/2023
01. Ready For Battle
03. Long Term
04. The Levee
05. Long Way Home
06. Mind Power
07. Stop Making Problems
10. False Prophets
11. Seeking A Vision
12. Blessed Be The Love
13. Jericho Walls