Spragga Benz ADD
Album Review: Hirie - Mood Swing
by Gardy Stein
Sexy, sassy and in full embracement of her Mood Swing: Hirie has dropped her fourth studio album (released via Ineffable Records), and you better hold on tight when it starts rocking! After her self-entitled debut 2013, the subsequent Wandering Soul (2016) and the 2019 follow-up Dreamer, here comes a co-production of Ricky Blaze and Lmr Pro that shows a rather different side of Patricia Jetton aka Trish. Hailing from Hawaii (with roots in both Filipino and Italian culture, too), the young singer has worked tirelessly to carve out a name for herself, supported by a 7-piece band from her chosen home San Diego, and together they have managed to build a strong Californian fanbase - and beyond. Within a few years, Hirie has become a staple performer at the Cali Roots Festival, and the instrumentalists (Andre Flores, Chris Del Camino, Andrew McKee and Rome Ramirez, among others) have made sure that an essential part of their sound found its way on the new album, too.
The opening track Diamond reflects this involvement well: crisp drums, clean guitar skanks, a bubbling organ and an engaged saxophone accompany the singer in this encouraging, empowering piece that includes painful auto-biographic experiences. It assures us that things will be ok, though, as long as we keep working for our goals. "You're a diamond in a rough world, but you gotta be tough, girl!"
Other songs on the album take a different direction musically, led by the visions of Brooklyn-based producer Ricky Blaze. Clearly aimed at a young, urban audience, tracks like Thief In The Night, Sway or Chocolate thematize attraction and physical love, the latter made slightly slippery by both lyrical ambiguity and the sexy delivery of the singer.
While, on a subjective note, rather shallow lyrics and those bongo drums spoil Sweet Tooth for me, Like A Drum, after starting with what sounds like the default Reggae rhythm on old keyboards, picks up drive in the second part with marching drums that stress the theme of the song, powerfully brought across by the crystal-clear voice of singer Trish.
The true genius of the producers unfolds in other pieces, though. Voices is probably the most interesting track sound-wise, combining distinct Rock and Pop elements with a Dancehall approach and underlying spherical effects that build up an edgy tension, climaxing in a complete shift in tempo and mood at 02:05. Exciting stuff!
Equally remarkable, though firmly back in Reggae waters this time, is Blast Soon. It's another very sensual song playing with metaphor and allusions, and the accurate-as-ever delivery of Kabaka Pyramid fits the laid-back pace and Hirie's seductive vocals just perfectly. Other featured artists include Matisyahu (who has kept quite a low profile on releases recently) in Blacklist as well as an authentic Spragga Benz, whose energetic performance saves the otherwise rather trivial I Miss You.
Definitely a highlight of the album is the full package of female power that comes in on Hello. Next to Trish herself, we hear colleagues Chelley, Naomi Cowan and Cali-based Anora, who says on her social media: "We wrote a song because we wanted to spread the message that you’re capable to rise up from any situation. Whether that’s leaving it, or working on what is broken. That the people and voices in your head that make you doubt your validity, that make you doubt yourself, are telling you lies. (…) That despite the tough times, you’ll get through it. To remind you, that you deserve an untainted love, you’re worthy to go after your hopes and dreams!" This upliftment not only shines through the lyrics each of the singers so gracefully delivers, but also hovers over the infectious beat co-produced by Paul Couture. "Saying hello to peace of mind, saying hello to a love that's right, saying hello to the life I want… good bye, good bye toxic energy!"
Both a reminder to live a life you won't regret when you look back on it and a prompt to press that triangular button again, Replay is the final of the twelve tracks and closes a solid album. However, a step away from personal sensitivities towards a reflection of what's going on in the world right now would lend importance and profundity to Hirie's lyrics, something that's, with the notable exception of Diamond and Hello, is lacking on an otherwise fine release.
Mixed by Andre Lloyd and mastered by Will Quinell, the overall sound the producers of Mood Swing have achieved is impressive and consistent in its variety, tailor-made for the style that Hirie has carved out for herself. It's not Reggae to the core (at least not in comparison to the deep Roots coming at us from other directions), but a playful, Pop-oriented fusion that flirts with different urban styles and seems to sit extremely well with the general Californian mindset. Find out for yourself during the Hirie's US-tour that has just started and is in full swing now!
Hirie - Mood Swing
DIGITAL RELEASE [Ineffable Records]
Release date: 09/30/2022
02. Thief In The Night
03. Blacklist feat. Matisyahu
05. Blast Soon feat. Kabaka Pyramid
07. Hello feat. Anora, Chelley & Naomi Cowan
08. I Miss You feat. Spragga Benz
09. Like A Drum
10. Sweet Tooth