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Album Review: Sebastian Sturm & Exile Airline - A Grand Day Out


by Valentin Zill

Album Review: Sebastian Sturm & Exile Airline - A Grand Day Out

The good news first: you have the Right to Remain Silent. If you don‘t know what to say, don‘t worry. You don‘t have to utter a word. Sebastian Sturm & Exile Airline have just released their latest Vision, one of A Grand Day Out, and this one‘s so good you might just end up speechless after you listened to it for the first time.

From an international perspective, the reggae movement in Germany is rather insignificant. Gentleman and Seeed are the two artists that stand out globally, and Jahcoustix gets recognition throughout much of the European Union. Martin Zobel & Soulrise got some well-deserved attention for their last album Land Of The Free, which they had recorded in California with Fully Fullwood. Uwe Banton just toured the East Coast of the U.S. for the first time, and took the opportunity to return to Costa Rica, where he already has a fan base. Most other German reggae artists are only of local relevance, stretching rarely further than to Switzerland and Austria. With the notable exception of Sebastian Sturm, who toured France a couple of times with Groundation and Danakil, as well as on his own.

The French massive supports roots reggae more than any other European crowd, and since roots singer Sebastian Sturm sings in English, not in German, France seems like a given. His last album Get Up & Get Going, recorded in 2011 with his new band Exile Airline, showed a matured Sturm that had found his personal style and the means to turn his musical vision a reality. To quite some extent, that was the merit of Exile Airline, one of the best reggae bands to be found in Germany. Get Up & Get Going got them up and going—together, they played more than one hundred shows throughout Europe, including the big festivals. Thus unified, they came up with a sequel, called A Grand Day Out, that outshines Get Up & Get Going.

They recorded the thirteen tracks you‘ll find on A Grand Day Out at home in Germany, in a breathless twelve-day session. On board as producers were Stephen Stewart and Sam Clayton Jr. Neither of them needs to be introduced to reggae connoisseurs. Once the recordings were done, Sturm flew to Kingston, Jamaica with Stewart and Clayton Jr. to finalize the album. Sebastian recorded combinations with Harrison Stafford, Groundation‘s lead singer, and Albert Minott, the current lead singer of the Jolly Boys. Stewart and Clayton Jr. did the mixing in Harry J‘s Studio.

From Right To Remain Silent, the opener that features Harrison Stafford on guest vocals, to the closing Someone You Like, A Grand Day Out is a thoroughly felicitous studio effort. Every note seems to breathe honest love for the music and the will to produce something extraordinary. The music gets ample space to unfold, following the paradigm that less is more. There‘s no brass section, no elaborate synthesizer melodies. Only the guitars add some glamor. The pounding bass soothes, the beats are subtle enought to make focussing on them worthwhile, the organs bubble with confidence. Sebastian‘s slightly hoarse and fragile voice with that unique tinge of reconciled melancholy always floats on top. He remains true to his style, it‘s the quality of the implementation that augmented compared to his previous albums. A Grand Day Out sounds more mature and offers more variety. Sebastian Sturm & Exile Airline go ska in Hard To Carry On, and explore mento rhythmics in More Music, the feature with Albert Minott. My favorite is the title track, a 06:20 minutes song with a dynamic bass line that sweeps you away.

Sebastian Sturm, now together with Exile Airline, went from strength to strength in recent years. A Grand Day Out confirms that they‘re ready for intercontinental connections. Despite the album‘s title, it lends itself much better to stress-relieved home listening than to A Grand Day Out. For the latter, wait till you hear the album performed live on stage.

Release details

Sebastian Sturm - A Grand Day Out

Sebastian Sturm - A Grand Day Out

DIGITAL RELEASE / CD [Rootdown Records]

Release date: 11/08/2013


01. Right To Remain Silent feat. Harrison Stafford
02. Vision
03. Don’t Learn
04. I’m Your Man
05. Hard To Carry On
06. Grand Day Out
07. Relight
08. More Music feat. Albert Minott
09. Real Strength
10. Sand In Their Machinery
11. Oned Step Onto The Train
12. Wasteland
13. Someone You Like