Album Review: Inna De Yard - The Soul of Jamaica
by Gardy Stein
Once upon a time in Kingston: sun shining, birds singing, dogs barking, and a tender voice telling us that "Wisdom is free, knowledge and understanding too." to a backdrop of acoustic guitar and drums - that's the beginning of a fairy tale which has been told many times, in countless yards all over the little island in the Caribbean. But never like this! For The Soul Of Jamaica, the original Inna De Yard crew (minus Earl Chinna Smith) has stepped up once more to deliver a milestone in Reggae music, presenting veterans and newcomers alike.
Ken Boothe, Cedric Myton (The Congos), Lloyd Parks, Derajah, Var (Pentateuch), Kiddus I, Steve Newland, Bo Pee, Kush and Winston McAnuff grace this exceptional release, recorded entirely under the open skies of Jamaica's capital. The idea first grew when Romain Germa & Nicolas Maslowski of the French label Makasound fell in love with the originality of the island's music, most of which is happening naturally in spontaneous gatherings and relaxed jam-sessions in Kingston's back yards. From 2003 to 2011, they recorded 8 albums with the group that came to be known as Inna De Yard (named after Chinna's yard in St. Andrew Park). Even though Makasound then ceased to exist, the enthusiasm never did, and last year, its offspring Chapter Two joined forces with the above mentioned musicians to once more bring to the world's attention the beauty of acoustic Reggae sounds. In just four days in summer 2016, they recorded the thirteen tracks now ready for your eager ears, a feat made possible only because all artists involved are some of the best, most professional singers and players of instruments there are to date.
Four days, in which old gems like The Viceroys' Love Is The Key, Lloyd Parks' Slaving, Youth Man by Cedric Myton and Ken Boothe's Artibella were re-recorded in their most essential form, stripped of all digital finesse. Raw! Other songs were created on the spot, such as Steve Newland's Sign Of The Time and Stone, an old theme powerfully delivered in new vocal garments by Derajah.
Additionally out on video, the stunningly touching Let The Water Run Dry features Ken Boothe as lead and The Viceroys as backing singers. Kush McAnuff's Black To I Roots pays an audible homage to the deceased Ronald 'Nambo' Robinson, whose trombone solo is, as always, exceptional. Of course, the pivotal figures of Kiddus I (Jah Power, Jah Glory), Winston McAnuff (Secret) and Lloyd Parks (Money For Jam) put the finishing touches on the release that wouldn't exist without them.
With Bo-Pee's beautiful Thanks And Praise, the album closes – and leaves us yearning for more! The good news is that a) there is a short documentary that captured some of the crucial moments of The Soul Of Jamaica's creation, b) the Inna De Yard crew will come on tour starting from April and c) there might be another album out soon.
Instead of a "happily ever after", let's pass the word to one of those who have been there to experience the magic of The Soul Of Jamaica: "It’s not like you're in a studio where you can go back and fix or anything. You have to sing the song straight through. That is the beauty of it because it is a live performance. It is not edited. You just get up there and sing. From your heart straight through!" (Var from Pentateuch Movement who contributed the urgent song Crime, quoted from Reggaeville's interview with Angus Taylor)
Inna De Yard - The Soul Of Jamaica
DIGITAL RELEASE [Wagram Music / Chapter Two Records]
Release date: 03/10/2017
01. Love Is the Key feat. The Viceroys
02. Let The Water Run Dry feat. Ken Boothe
03. Slaving feat. Lloyd Parks
04. Black To I Roots feat. Winston McAnuff
05. Youthman feat. Cedric Myton
06. Crime feat. Var
07. Jah Power, Jah Glory feat. Kiddus I
08. Artibella feat. Ken Boothe
09. Sign of the Times feat. Steve Newland
10. Secret feat. Winston McAnuff
11. Stone feat. Derajah
12. Money for Jam feat. Lloyd Parks
13. Thanks & Praises feat. Bo-Pee