Norris Man – Deep Conversations

by Jun 7, 2022Artist, Reviews

Norris Man - Deep Conversations

Release Info

Train Line Records
Street date
May, 2022
Facebook Artist

1. House of Parlement (feat. Anthony B) 3:57
2. Juvenile 3:48
3. Deep Conversation Remaster 4:41
4. I’m a Love 3:51
5. As I Rise 4:02
6. Builders of Rome 4:18
7. Dignified 4:10
8. Shine Your Light 3:56
9. These Are the Reasons 4:01
10. Time Was Waisted 4:50
11. On Your Mind 4:30
12. Wicked Man World 4:04
SIGNAL!: A review of Deep Conversations by Norris Man

Building blocks. A travel back through the catalogue of virtually any artist who has had enjoyed a lengthy career can be a downright joyous voyage. There are so many things that’re sure to grab your attention for one reason or another and, maybe, you’ll even find a piece or two which you didn’t even know existed. That’s the case for so many and, I have to say, that some of the most fun I routinely experience in writing reviews like this comes in the research stages where I not only, occasionally, run into something new for me, but I also come across material which I just haven’t heard in a very long time. When I do this and I’m already in the mindset to be open to the work of that particular artist, it is just such a good time I have going back through some of my old favourites from them before actually getting into what I’m looking at presently. I’m going to, admittedly clumsily (and I know that in advance!), attempt to make a point here and I hope I can be understood because it is an unusual one I think: We’re lucky in a genre such as Reggae music where, at least historically (and still, to a degree, but not exactly in the same way), we have releases of all types of organizations and functions where not every single recording that comes down is an ‘end of the world’ sort of case. What I mean is that – we have artists who have giant songs and albums that someone has spent a great deal of money in creating and promoting, but we also have so many other sets which arrive as kind of ‘under the radar’ and more ‘underground’.

Now, when you take this and combine it with the fact that we also enjoy artists who have given us spells of hyperactivity, when you do go back through what they’ve done, you can literally run into FAVOURITE SONGS AND FULL ALBUMS that you have from an artist that you have not heard in YEARS! It is a feeling equally exciting as it is fucking strange and just something that I find myself very much looking forward to when doing my research. The obvious sets will not give you that same satisfaction because, obviously, you won’t have steered too far away from a big song (like, say for example, Persistence and the album named after it) (just putting it out there), but if you dive deeper into the catalogue of…. oh I don’t know, maybe someone like a Norris Man, you can potentially find gem after gem which haven’t popped up on your radars in quite some time. The career of the Kingston native has been, in its totality, has been remarkable and I won’t dive too far into it because I have several times (and once not too long ago for his 2020 release, Emerge for Stingray), but the wailing chanter has seen one of the most curious of career trajectories in all of modern Reggae music. Still, with that being said, he has most continued the work and, when he has been in a good form, Norris Man has provided us with some very strong material and has built one of the most compelling vaults in the genre – but one whose real heat is reserved for only the most diligent of fans.

And here may be another log for the fire. In writing this review (literally right now), I’m coming to appreciate just how much of a fan I actually am of Norris Man’s. He has done music over the years that I don’t think pretty much anyone remembers in the way that I do. I won’t dwell on it too much but, as I’ve said in the past, there was an earlier project he did by the name of World Crisis (it has yet to reach the digital medium, but my friend Google says that it isn’t impossible to find physically, if you’re interested) which has become a personal classic for me and you may not find anyone else in the entire world — not even Norris Man himself — who would say that. I also look at albums such as Captura and Much More To Life as pieces that we don’t really hear much about these days and they’ve kind of faded away, but if you’re a nerd (like me) when Norris Man releases a new album, you suddenly get a reason to go deep-diving through his past and you make more stops than just at Persistence and Home & Away (though those are fun as well). In fact, with however many albums he’s had at this point (I really don’t feel like figuring that out right now), Norris Man has only that three or four (and four is probably bein generous), that have gotten a proper push and are immediately identifiable by more casual fans. Therefore, when you do go back through his music, again, you’re going to be dealing with some amazing pieces that may not have gotten their own time to shine in the biggest sense, but can still do a major damage for you, personally. I also want to say, by extension, just how fun it is to cover him. I absolutely LOVE writing about Norris Man and will look for any excuse to do so.
So when I first saw that an album by the name of Deep Conversations , I not only got excited as far as getting the opportunity to hear it and to write a review for it, but I immediately got the vibe from it that here was another one though potentially destined to go overlooked by many, I was about to have A LOT of fun with. I was also very pleased to see its cover with Norris between heart and brain (love when people draw artists. It’s something that will always catch my attention and, off the top of my head, it isn’t the first time a visual artist has gotten a hold of Norris’ likeness as he was also depicted in full martial arts regalia on the cover of Dubwise Connection and Norris Man also appeared in the roster of artists who appeared on the wonderful cover of the one of my favourite compilations of all time, Culture Dem from Lustre Kings Productions (which also featured cartoons of Sizzla, Capleton, Anthony B, Turbulence, Jah Mason, Lutan Fyah and others) (like Yami Bolo)) and the next thing that caught my eye was its source. Deep Conversations comes to us via one Train Line Records. If that name doesn’t sound familiar, that’s fine (given what they’ve done thus far, you will almost certainly become familiar in short order). The label, headed by Real McKoy, an active recording artist himself, most recently dropped the LOVELY Night-In-Gale Riddim, featuring the works of Norris Man and Real McKoy along with big names such as Freddie McGregor, Pressure Busspipe, Perfect Giddimani and the aforementioned Anthony B (who I’m going to mention again in a minute) and Lutan Fyah. Prior to that track, the label has spent nearly a decade or so pushing out very solid, predominately Roots Reggae music with a nice mixture of big artists/veterans with up and comers.

The producer of an album is always important, but in recent times it’s become even more so when it comes to Norris Man as he has spent quite a bit of time working with labels who deal with a variety of different vibes (if you want an example of that, check his 2019 release, Time for Knatural Entertainment) (check Mystical Journey from 2013. Great album). That’s fine, of course, but it isn’t necessarily my favourite thing to hear so, given what I know about Train Line, it made me even more excited to hear what was potentially forthcoming on Deep Conversations. I also looked around and saw that it was receiving a little attention — probably about as much as I would have expected — and my thoughts didn’t go to believing it would be the next MASSIVE Norris Man album but, instead, just another very finely crafted display of his one of a kind gifts (and, oddly enough, I think I got just as excited as I might’ve had I been under the impression that this would be a full-on, can’t-miss classic). I would have been just fine with that and, again, given its roots, I didn’t think that there was any chance that Deep Conversations wouldn’t be at least THAT. The fact that I had heard a couple of songs off this release prior to it actually increased my expectations as well and, as strange as it may be, by the time I did get to dig into Deep Conversations, I had formed a VERY good feeling about it and it may have been one of the most anticipated Norris Man albums that I have, personally, gotten into in recent memory; but it wasn’t a lock on circumstances and paper alone. It had to perform and it would perform and perform VERY well. Let’s talk about it.

Something very interesting (if you’re a nerd) (and you are) (so am I) about Deep Conversations in going through the tracklist: There’s a dozen songs on this album and its runtime is fifty minutes. That averages over four minutes per tune, with only a third of the songs being sub four minutes (and the shortest is three minutes and forty-seven seconds). That is PRETTY GOOD in this day and age when you routinely run into two minute long, unfulfilling songs (which is more forgivable in Dancehall, but entirely less so in Roots) (I liken Dancehall to a sprint, Roots is a distance run), so good for Norris Man and Train Line for, clearly, taking their time with making this one and getting everything out of that they could. A credit also goes to them for enlisting the help of the aforementioned legendary Anthony B who joins Norris Man for the opener of his new album, Deep Conversations, House of Parlement. The two Star Trail alumni make for an unfortunately rare link (there may be more, but I only know of one prior combination between the two, Make It from Free Willy’s version of the Father Jungle Rock Riddim [“I. SMOKE. HIGH GRADE EVERYDAYYYYYYYY!”]) because this one is HUGE and you knew it would be. Years from now, you won’t have heard this album for a minute or two and you’ll pick it up and remember that this tune was on it and it will bring a smile to your face and maybe a tear to your eye. The veterans turn in a scintillating social commentary saying that it doesn’t matter what you do if the leaders, themselves, are the source of many of our problems.

The government is the biggest gangster
Dem give order to policemen
Most of the killing from Kingston to country-
Done by babylon death squad
I tell yuh The government is the biggest gangster
Dem give order to policemen
Most of the killing from Kingston to country-
Done by babylon death squad

Yuh si, that’s why dem no waan hear wi argument-
When wi question house of parliament
Seeking justice it all depends, if you have money fi yuh own defense
That’s why crime ain’t no accident
Cause these politicians under false pretense
So time fi bun dun di monument

BOOM! It says something mighty about the quality of Deep Conversations that House of Parlement isn’t even its best tune, in my opinion, but even if you think it is (and I think most will), I don’t think you’d feel that way with any great certainty. The tune also has a very free-flowing vibes to it and…. yeah I might be changing my mind about that – it not being the best song here thing. There is big quality following the explosive beginning (might be changing my mind as I keep listening to it. Let’s continue!). Next is another heavy-hitter in the form of Juvenile (biggup Junior Kelly), Norris’ of the ‘perfectly’ named Big Chune Riddim, produced by Perfect Giddimani (a fantastic riddim, by the way). The song is of that vintage, dusty Norris Man signature sound and it is a JOY to hear! As the title would suggest Juvenile is written as a message for the youths who may’ve lost their way, but what I really like about it is that it isn’t condescending at all. Norris Man is not talking down to young people, he’s speaking to them as a concerned elder – but an EQUAL elder [“In your action, there’s always a judgment; AND IT COMES BY SEGMENT”]. Young people (and people in general) are more receptive to a concerned voice and not one stemming from a place of arrogance or judgment and you will not get an ounce of that on Juvenile. Next is another familiar tune that I kinda/sorta alluded to a moment ago, Deep Conversation (I was about to call it the title track, but the title is plural, isn’t it?). This was Norris’ offering on the Night-In-Gale Riddim and I’ll remind you exactly what I said in regards to it when I wrote about the riddim’s release:
“I think I’m leaning towards Lutan Fyah’s Africa Shall Rise as the biggest winner, though a most interesting challenge comes from (pretty much everyone, actually) Norris Man who comes through with the very curious Deep Conversation
There is some strange ass quality possessed by this song that I have a difficult time in describing but is fully present. While I suppose you could technically call it a ‘love song’, there is something deeper at work here in my opinion (probably ‘relationship song’ is a better way of putting it). I think at the heart of Deep Conversation are all of those difficult and awkward conversations we all have as part of being in relationships (and not just in the ‘romantic’ sense. You have difficult conversations with your parents and your kids and your friends) but…. yeah, this one has something special about it. Far more straight forward of a lover’s piece (though not completely) is I’m a Love which follows our not quite title track. Coming through on TLR’s sublime Emblematic Riddim (damn shame they didn’t put an instrumental version on the digital release of the Emblematic Riddim). You could take this in the easiest way possible, but you know I don’t do that. What hit me from I’m a Love is that it is a look at all of different things that we find attractive in each other. Specifically, the subject of this tune is looking for STABILITY and RELIABILITY, but it could be anything at all and it usually is! Oh, and I also want to tell you to pay a little more attention to what happens, lyrically, with I’m a Love. If you just set it as a love song and don’t really get into it, you’ll miss something.
As it would turn out, the very first selection on Deep Conversations that is completely new to me, As I Rise, is also the one I found to be its biggest altogether. This is a CONFIDENT tune!

As I rise, I see them fell
Road they were walking was not straight

You see when joy comes in your heart-
And goodness stay in your soul
And you practice only love – that’s how good energy comes in
Because The Giver Of Life wants us to do the right
Burning down sodom

So as I rise, I see them fell
Road they were walking was not straight
I rise, I see dem fell
Road they were walking was not straight

It is about knowing that you are right with His Majesty and walking (figuratively and literally) with the knowledge that everything that is not in your power has already been taken care of. You could even take the spiritual aspect out of this one (although I don’t think Norris Man would) and just apply As I Rise to confidence and self-assurance, in general, but that is what grabbed me most about this big tune. Builders of Rome came to us via Radical Roots Records and Small Axe Music Productions, respectively, a couple of years back (research actually says that the release date was the 29th of May, 2020 which is exactly two years ago from when I’m writing this) through their Bush Doctor Riddim (biggup Peter Tosh) where it was amongst the very best offerings, just as it is here. Not too dissimilar from House of Parlement, Builders of Rome questions the true source of many of the banes of society and wonders how overcoming them is even possible when those in charge are also responsible (and benefitting) from so many of them. The song has a spectacular vibe about, especially near its end (big credit to the backing singer/s) (they’re solid throughout this album, really) and it is one of the finest listens on the whole of Deep Conversations in my opinion. Even stronger is the curious Dignified which I was SURE that I had heard somewhere before this album, but as far as I can tell, it is completely new. Regardless of its origins, however, Dignified is golden.

Sometimes we standing in the land of strangers
Got to be aware of these dangers
Prowlers in these streets
Searching for souls
Sometime we worry about tomorrow
In this survival game
Stand with might, yeah
Never take defeat!

Give thanks for joy you bring Jah
Give thanks for the love you bring
I say give thanks for the joy you bring
Give thanks for the love you bring
Just be dignified
Just be dignified

Many times they forced us to sell our soul
But we have to take control
There are tricks in the system
Want you to be a victim
They push aside the righteous
Fight down the goodness
All what’s taken place is just illusion

Musically, Dignified hits a few different plateaus but does so subtle (there is a GORGEOUS guitar in there somewhere). Whatever that riddim is is gorgeous and whoever created it… “give thanks for the joy you bring, yeah”. The exquisite New Vineyards helmed Shine Your Light also impresses mightily as Deep Conversations progresses along. This is, for the most part, the praising track that you knew was in the offering (although I will say that Deep Conversations isn’t a very spiritual album, on the surface. Beneath it all, OF COURSE, but it has a few different colours and textures than you might be expecting from an album which is definitely Roots Reggae music) and it does not disappoint and you knew that it wouldn’t [“Shine your light, upon me. Rastafari is all I know”]. This is another one with a very pleasant riddim behind it and, just a well done, solid piece.
The last lot of tracks on Deep Conversations deliver a mixed bag as it contains both its only misstep and one of its single largest moments altogether, in my opinion. These Are the Reasons is the only song here that I can actually say that I do not like and I don’t hate it, but after giving it a nice amount of time, it hasn’t grown on me much. I wouldn’t think that a lot of planning went into the song and I wouldn’t be surprised if Norris Man just kind of came up with it on the spot (if I recall correctly, he talked about doing that on the Much More To Life release. It doesn’t work well here, in any case, as These Are the Reasons isn’t particularly strong lyrically or in its delivery, but that’s just my opinion. On Your Mind is another one not ranking as a favourite of mine on the album, but it definitely does have a value in its sound and it has grown on me just a little from the first time I heard it. It is another love song and it has more in the way of direction and is more ‘grounded’ than These Are the Reasons. Time Was Waisted (and I’m spelling it how it’s spelled on the tracklist) probably isn’t going to change anyone’s life either, but this one is an EXCELLENT listen. It is delightful… albeit it in a mistreated and distressing kind of way. Still, with that being said, without a doubt the undeniable late-album highlight on Deep Conversations is the shot that is Wicked Man World. Tuff Links Records takes production here as they lend Norris Man their lovely Sydonnie Riddim — easily one of the finest you will find here altogether — and he returned it to them with its best track.

I no inna dem wicked man world
Ah brag and ah boast
Dem ah talk bout seh dem ah run place
Mi no inna dem wicked man world
Ah gwan like dem bad, ah tough up dem big ugly face
I no inna dem wicked man world
Ah brag and ah boast
Dem ah talk bout seh dem ah run place
Mi no inna dem wicked man world
Si dem gwan, push up yuh face

Hold yuh meds, else yuh ah go lose yuh head
Copper ahgo grieve yuh, plus lead
You memba what happen to di bwoy Alfred?
Talk up him mouth and him get ah made to rest
When you kill a one man, you ah puff up yuh chest
Now di mother ah regret

I no inna dem wicked man world
Dem ah brag and ah boast
Dem ah talk bout seh dem ah run place
Mi no inna dem wicked man world
Ah gwan like dem bad and ah tough up dem big ugly face
I no inna dem wicked man world
Dem ah brag and ah boast
Dem ah talk bout seh dem ah run place
Mi no inna dem wicked man world
Ah gwan like dem bad and ah tough up dem big ugly face

A couldn’t Zion dem ah go
Hey, hey bwoy-

‘YOU ARE NOT AS BIG AS YOU THINK YOU ARE’ (no one is) is the sentiment behind Wicked Man World and Norris Man captures it to near perfection (full perfect would have been what Capleton did so many years ago on Jah Jah City), bringing to an end yet another extremely interesting drop in his archives.

Overall, I’m thinking and I’m hoping that there’s a pretty good chance that Deep Conversations is going to surprise quite a few people who stumble across it and just let it play. On top of that (and far more obviously), it’s also going to make a lot of people like You and I very happy. I say that to mean that it’s probably a little better than I think most people will expect and after having dug into it for the sake of this review, up until the last few tracks, it’s better than even I had left it for. One of the aspects of this release which now stands out most vivid is just how well it sounds. The musicianship and production is top notch throughout so biggup Train Line Records and all of the other producers involved: You have done your job well; and, as I said, background singers SHINE throughout Deep Conversations as well (I’m just right now casually listening to ‘Dignified’ and before this was ‘Juvenile’: EXCELLENT songs. Really, really good songs). As for Norris Man, though there may be no chance for an album like this one to catch fire and suddenly become this all-popular and all-conquering project that goes down as this big and legendary release, there is a chance (a 100% one) that it IMMEDIATELY goes down as one his finest in recent times which is saying a lot for someone as decorated as Norris Man. Deep Conversations seems set on a course to be yet another damn solid album from Norris Man which is sure to provide listeners with joy for years to come, building even higher a structure which is becoming increasingly difficult to see over.


Where to get it

Buy @ Apple Music

More Norris Man Music

Buy @ Apple Music