Album-Review: Nazarenes - Meditation
by Karl Pearson
The Nazarenes, brothers Noah and Medhane Tewolde who were born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to parents of Eritrean descent before later settling in Sweden, are back with their first album since 2008s Rock Firm.
Meditation is built around roots reggae ideals with pop sensibilities and tinges of rock added for good measure. It’s an album that flows gracefully from the album titled opener with its serene guitar work and sung in both English and Ge'ez, that pays homage to their homeland of Ethiopia and their Eritrean roots all the way to the swaying, self-explanatory, album closer Love Jah.
Sandwiched in between are songs full of lilting, soulful harmonies that throwback to those classic roots harmony groups of the '70s added to which are more deft guitar, shimmering keys, triumphant, but not over powering, horns and all set against a beating heart of drum and bass. Style wise we get some lustrous steppers, courtesy of single release Food, with the brothers highlighting the plight of the global food crisis and the struggle for sustenance that billions still face across the globe while others have more than they need and are wasteful. Darker vibes from that singles companion On My Way, a deeply spiritual and mystical song that charts the way to Zion with the pleading ‘Alive’ still down at that dubbier end of proceedings along with Politrickcians which has a more contemporary feel. Mamy Blues is a perfect blend of pop and reggae and is not to be confused with Horace Andy’s similarly titled song, although I think there is a hefty nod of respect to it on this tale of how Mother Earth has been abused by mankind.
There are also two great guest appearances form Lutan Fyah and Midnite. Lutan adding edginess to Nazarenes’ smooth vocals on It’s Too Late, while Midnite adds depth to the falsetto-laden harmonies on spiritual slow burner The Lord Said.
The album is being released by Virgin Islands-based I Grade Records who have garnered themselves something of a reputation for breaking new musical territory with the likes of the afore mentioned Midnite, whose collaboration with Jamaican producer Andrew ‘Bassie’ Campbell from last year on Kings Bell has been highly acclaimed, as was Toussaint’s album Black Gold from 2010 and these 14 well written tracks, full of consciousness and unity, are sure follow suit, enhancing the reputations of all concerned and making this another modern classic.
Nazarenes - Meditation
DIGITAL RELEASE [I Grade Records, Zojak]
Release date: 04/24/2012
03. It’s Too Late feat. Lutan Fyah
05. On My Way
06. The Lord Said feat. Midnite
07. Mamy Blues
11. Get Together
13. Lonesome Lady
14. Love JAH