Addis Pablo – Melodies From The House Of Levi
02. No War Dub feat. George Palmer
03. Narrow Road
04. Every Nubian is a Star (LP Verison) feat. Earl Sixteen & Mutabaruka
06. Pagan Land feat. Kenny Smyth
07. Blessed Are The Poor
08. Poor & Needy feat. Var
09. Wisdom of Solomon (LP Version)
10. Sabbath Day (LP Version) feat. Ras Teo
11. Jah Kingdom Come
12. Psalm feat. Jah Exile
We all know of situations where offspring of former greats such as Bob Marley, Morgan Heritage and Jimmy Riley have not only walked the same road as their elders, but have also embraced the journey. They knew, for better or for worse, that they would immediately be compared to their parent and, in many cases, it would be a situation of spending an entire career in the shadow of someone else. To do that and still manage to build some type of a legacy of your own is truly remarkable. It is one thing to maybe remake some of your parent’s old songs or maybe do them in performance (or maybe even a full album), but we’ve seen certain individuals take it even a step further.
Such is the case of one Addis Pablo. Addis Pablo’s father is an undisputed, unchallenged king in a very specific area of Reggae music. The legendary Augustus Pablo popularized (within the capacity of actually making music, professionally) a relatively obscure instrument in the melodica which was, perhaps, best known as a child’s toy prior to his work. The elder Pablo would clearly not only fall in love with the melodica but instead of doing what you might imagine he would have and held it as something of a hobby, he played it straight into immortality.
When we last took a look at his output, it was way back in 2014 for his excellent debut album release, In My Father’s House (and if that doesn’t tell you all you need to know about his feelings about what he’s up to, nothing will) (clearly he FULLY welcomes it). Wonderfully, In My Father’s House would come through one of our very favourite labels around that time and one we haven’t had the pleasure of running into since ending our hiatus, JahSolidRock Music. Along with their work with Pablo, the Dutch based imprint also gained our full appreciation largely through working with Chezidek as they produced a MAMMOTH pair of albums with the singer – 2010’s Judgement Time and The Order Of Melchezedik from three years on. That was more than enough to get and keep my attention (the former is one of the single best albums that we’ve covered on these pages and if it isn’t a modern classic, it should be… I don’t feel like looking it up right now!) (….okay it is!) (thought so!) but the label has also done material with the likes of Brinsley Forde, Lloyd De Meza (there’s a name you haven’t heard in awhile) and others. So, it would only make good sense that, when there is a new album from Addis Pablo — and there is — that it should also come via ‘the highest region’ and he and JahSolidRock now deliver Melodies From The House Of Levi. Between projects, Pablo remained well active. Though this is probably going to officially his second album, there have been quite a few singles and more than a couple of EP style sets as well. Most notably, perhaps, would be Bright Star, a LOVELY eight-tracked EP from Evidence Music which arrived just a couple of months ago actually and last year he also linked with the Green Lion Crew for Green Lion Crew Meets Addis Pablo & Friends Uptown, which featured contributions from Mr. Williamz, Jah Bami and more. So he’s been busy and definitely been impressing and as I can well say that, eight years later, the name Addis Pablo, as his own musician, carries more weight than it did as an up and comer back in 2014 (when he was still dropping big tunes like the syrupy sweet Road To Addis). That’s what he’s been up to, however, the question is how is the present looking for Addis Pablo and JahSolidRock??
Getting this started is what I believe is the most recent single from Melodies, Black Liberation Day. Despite its title, this composition isn’t one that I’m necessarily going to refer to as “joyous”. This isn’t a celebration to my ears. What it is, is WORK. This is not a congratulations for a completed effort, instead it comes off more as a call to join in for the preparations that must be made for the day. There is a bit of subtle urgency here as well (particularly during its building middle portions) that I feel, with the main sentiment, in my opinion, being that there is much work to be done. Most interestingly, handling the vocal duties for the first track is man of the moment, Spanish singer George Palmer. The Horace Andy-esque vocalist has an album, Working Man, forthcoming on Irie Ites Records in about a month or so as of this writing, so you’re probably going to be hearing quite a bit for him forthcoming. Until then, set your ears on his effort here, No More War Dub. As its title would suggest, this one is PURELY for the Dub heads who should devour it! If you’ve enjoyed hearing Horace Andy at some point in Dub, you should feel the same way about Palmer’s work and definitely looking forward to the album.
Pablo returns with another single from Melodies (this one from a couple of years ago now), Narrow Road. This tune is EXQUISITE. Were it not for one chunk of brilliance than comes later on, it would be my pick as the best composition on the whole of this album. It has such a FULL vibe to it and how it manages to progress throughout is damn impressive. I don’t possess the vocabulary (I do actually have the vocabulary, what I lack is the knowledge of exactly what I’m hearing) to describe it, but about a minute in or so, Narrow Road WIDENS. It begins to bloom and though I won’t call it dynamic, it is just… COMPLETE. There is not a thing missing on this one. Pablo hands it off to a pair of greats in Earl Sixteen (who was also on In My Father’s House) and Mutabaruka who link up for Every Nubian Is A Star.
Remember our glorious history
Shine bright, see the light
With your melanin skin, find your Nubian truth within
Our armageddeon past long, long time
Don’t let dem twist and turn your mind
WI GAVE THE WORLD CIVILIZATION
DON’T LET DEM INDOCTRINATE YOU AND CALL IT ‘EDUCATION’
Light the torch and shine it bright
Remember our glorious history
With your melanin skin, find your Nubian truth within
Smyth also shines on the, arguably, even stronger Pagan Land. Kenny Smyth comes equipped with a POWERFUL kind of dusty sound to his voice (probably not the best way to describe it, but I’m sticking with it), immediately giving virtually anything he does at least some level of appeal to my ears and Pagan Landis going to be one of the best songs that I’ve heard from him to date (also check an older tune by the name of Jah Mi Gi De Glory, if you’re curious about what else he’s done on that level). Pablo comes through on that same riddim with Nineve, a highlight coming from his end as well. This one does have to grow for about a minute or so before emerging in total, but when it does – DAMN! Nineve is almost stunning at times but in a very laid-back and chilled sort of way (there is a spell from about 1:44 to 1:58-ish, which just HAD me. It is so beautiful), making it very easy to take it all in. BOOM!
Pablo also gets very high marks for his penultimate offering on Melodies, the outstanding Words of Solomon, as does the increasingly popular Ras Teo who supplies the riddim with vocals via Sabbath Day. Somewhat similar to Jah Kingdom Come in terms of the feel of it, Words of Solomon, again, sounds like Pablo is giving us information through his vibes. As an overthinker and someone who finds supreme joy in attempting to decipher the words of the genres most gifted lyricists, I’m tempted to do it here as well, but I think that, if my assumption is true, that such things are best left, COMPLETELY, to the individual listener; and even if I am totally wrong (and I almost surely am), who cares?? Words of Solomon is a JOY to listen to, even in just what it is on the surface. The Swedish born Teo, who has enjoyed a powerful last couple of years or so, was in fine form on this contribution.
Overall, to the surprise of absolutely no one at all, Melodies From The House Of Levi is EXCELLENT. It continues much in the fashion of its predecessor (as will its eventual follow-up, I’m sure) which is just fine, so if you did enjoy the In My Father’s House album –and if you’ve read this far into a review, you did — it is a LOCK that Melodies will also make you happy (I’ve developed the habit of listening to something other than what I’m reviewing when I get to the conclusion and this time I’ve gone back into In My Father’s House…. that thing was SO NICE! What a nice album!). Though I do so wish that Chezidek had been involved, I do really like the selection of the vocalists as well and, like I said, the presentation of the project. In one or two of these instances, hearing the clean instrumental before the vocals kind of made me more sensitive to hearing the riddim behind the artist because I was tuned in at that point and expecting to hear certain things (particularly true with Psalm 20). That put light on things that I don’t know that I generally pay attention to in that exact way when I listen to music. I’m also going to give a credit to one Abba Yahudah, the artiste who created the album covers for both In My Father’s House and Melodies. That man is a genius. His artwork, here, just as before, sits atop a body of work befitting to such a beautiful display as, on Melodies From The House Of Levi, Addis Pablo and JahSolidRock once again soar and demonstrate a level of quality comparable to even the most revered of legacies. I ended the review of In My Father’s House saying:
“The album serves as a mighty debut for Addis Pablo who not only picks up where his legendary father left off, but he also shows himself to potentially be capable of building a legend of his own. GOLDEN.”
The foundation was laid. Eight years on, on top of it is a palace.