Album Review: Rootz Radicals - Together As One
by Gardy Stein
Oneness, solidarity, unity… there are many words that describe the concept of being mentally or physically close to fellow human beings, a kind of ideal state that, alas, mankind has still not fully embraced. The voices that keep this utopia alive are manifold however, and the German band Rootz Radicals add their album Together As One to this choir.
After a first EP called Lian Outta Den (2015), a subsequent dub version as well as the Israel Riddim Sampler (2017) and quite a few singles, this is their debut album. Consisting of Uno Jahma (vocals, lyrics & production), Christian Moll (guitar & lyrics), Thomas Eibl (organ, keys, melodica, sax), Henry Shell (bass) and Thomas Salvermoser (drums), the five musicians have jammed together since their teenage days, and the current release presents the Rootz Radicals as a mature group who play some serious Reggae music. Let's dive into their sound!
The title track Together As One opens the release, a balladesque call for unity that was inspired by the passing of a close friend. This emotion is felt both in the outstanding vocal delivery of singer Uno and in the accompanying visuals, filmed on a rough coast with the whole band performing infront of the horizon - and a setting sun. Identity, the first single released, then sets the off-beat pace for the pieces to follow. Featuring Conscious Fyah of the Roots Reggae outfit Headcornerstone, the two singers elaborate on the subject provided by the title, stressing the need to find out who you are, other than material things and society's indoctrinations.
Third track, second single, completely different vibe: Brighter Days Ahead comes on a fast-paced instrumental that almost sounds digital, "a celebration of life and the endless possibilities that lie ahead", as the press release informs us. When Gentleman heard it by a lucky coincidence, he liked both riddim and lyrics and immediately agreed to join Uno on that vibe.
Other featured guests are Rebellion the Recaller, a long-time friend who adds some strong vocals on the ghetto-youths-empowering Kingston Elite, and Queen Omega. The Trinidadian singer is a perfect ambassador for the message delivered in Education Free, which talks about the need to provide free education, especially in poor countries. Washing over us on an infectious beat built around the Answer riddim bassline, we can even look forward to an accompanying video soon to be released in which the Queen rocks a school in Trinidad along with friends and family members.
Mango Juice, with its slightly slurred delivery, contributes to the positive roughness the Rootz Radicals stand for, while Big Oaks brings the band full circile to their Jamaican influences, skanky beats and harmony singing and all. Uno's vocal versatility is probably most pronounced in the Rod Stewart cover Maggie May, which has been beautifully translated into a relaxed, bass-heavy one-drop, shining with melodica highlights. Finally, Kinky Paradise, thematising materialism, excessive greed and colonial art theft (hats off to the wild organ solo there, and the video!), is followed by the ska-infused Get The Action, which closes the album.
Recorded, mixed and mastered at Berlin's prestigious Planet Earth Studios, you can rest assured that Together As One comes in top-notch quality. Watch out for this!
Rootz Radicals - Together As One
Release date: 12/08/2023
01. Together As One
02. Identity feat. Headcornerstone
03. Brighter Days Ahead feat. Gentleman
04. Mango Juice
05. Maggie May
06. Education Free feat. Queen Omega
07. Big Oaks
08. Kingston Elite
09. Kinky Paradise
10. Get The Action