Ginjah – The Reggae Soul Man

by Jan 7, 2024Artist, Reviews, Various

Ginjah - The Reggae Soul Man

Release Info

Label
Nature’s Way Entertainment
Format
DR
Street date
May 15, 2021
Contact
Facebook Record Label
Facebook Artist

Tracklist

01. Confident
02. Trying Times
03. Pressures Of Life
04. Feel Love
05. Show Love
06. Midnight Train
07. Procrastinate
08. Live Your Life
09. Bible And Key
10. Nuh Water Down
11. Jah Jah Children
12. Get Up Now
13. Day In Day Out
14. Struggling
15. Lighting Brimstone Fire

Ginjah (Valentine Nkrumah Fraser) released The Reggae Soul Man as his sixth studio album, on the Nature Ways label, in 2021. Ginjah was born in 1978 in Hanover (western Jamaica, later moving to near Kingston), and more recently moved to California, the US.

MUSICAL EVOLUTION

His first studio session was when he was 17 years old was at the famous King Jammy’s studio (Waterhouse, Kingston). Around 2000, he was more or less “discovered” by Beres Hammond, and also connected some time to Beres’s Harmony House label, releasing his first songs for Harmony House. A few years later (around 2004) he went solo, under the name Ginjah given by Beres, related to his love for the typically Jamaican Ginger Beer. Ginjah recorded quite some songs and several albums since then, indeed showing talent for a conscious type of Reggae – known as New Roots – , and a good soulful singing voice, that draws favorable comparisons to Garnett Silk and Ras Shiloh, and a bit (in “clarity”) also to Romain Virgo, yet very much his own.

While no “lovers rock” champion like Beres Hammond, Ginjah did not eschew occasional love songs, but got especially known for his conscious tunes, Never Lost My Way, released in 2009, being one of his best known “hit” songs in international Reggae scenes.

CONSCIOUS

So The Reggae Soul Man, named after another moniker of Ginjah (Reggae Soul Man), is his sixth studio album from 2021, but largely follows the conscious, soulful vibe of Never Lost My Way. Mostly conscious tunes on this album, with his nice, soulful singing voice, and above all: strong, catchy melodies. The musicians include veteran saxophone player Dean Fraser, and others connected to the Firehouse Crew, guaranteeing like a “stamp of quality” the newer yet real Jamaican Reggae – with a quite “full” yet measured sound – people know from the Roots Revival since the 1990s (Sizzla, Anthony B., Fantan Mojah, Lutan Fyah, etc.). The drummer with the memorable name Unga Barunga is relatively young, but also plays well tight and groovy in the typically Jamaican drumming style, ensuring danceability.

This, combined with Ginjah’s appealing voice, catchy melodies, and conscious lyrics, results in a great album, with almost all good songs, or “gems”, in my opinion. I liked all songs, in fact, though maybe with gradations. The album either way never got really boring.

SOULFUL AND CATCHY

The album starts positive and uplifting with Confident, which sounds nice, though somewhat understated. It becomes a bit more “vibrant”, as it were, with the soulful song Trying Times, referring in the lyrics also to the then corona policies, affecting California (where he resides) even more, I understood, than Florida (a common US Jamaican migrant destination), or Jamaica itself, lamenting limits to movement and freedom, with a soulful and catchy chorus. Likewise soulful and catchy, is the perhaps best-known song – also released as single – from this album: the excellent Pressures of Life, with broader, philosophical lyrics, and one of the highpoints of this album. Not the only “high” though, as also the following songs have the same “catchy and soulful” qualities, paired with a tight production, and female background vocals smoothly added – rather: blended – in the mix, as is known also from other New Roots productions. Feel Love is perhaps a bit stronger than Show Love, but the latter is neither “bad” as a song, with its kind of Garnett Silk vibe.

Then comes another “high”, the great “killer” tune Midnight Train. One of the songs (besides Pressures Of Life) that I heard before the rest of the album… and immediately loved. Some of the following songs are engaging enough too, like the lively (ha!) Life Your Life (with more chatting/toasting than singing), and the militant Get Up Now (with a groovy keyboard riff), and some seem less vibrant or sensational (e.g. Procrastinate, Nuh Water Down, or Struggling, with some simpler melodies), but only in comparison. They are still okay, catchy, and with interesting lyrics, and tight riddims.

SOLID QUALITY

As the quality is maintained throughout, there are really no “skip tune” moments, and with great tunes like Bible and Key (about untrustworthy “friends” and relatives), Jah Jah Children (a freedom/repatriation call… and a groovy Reggae party starter!), and Day In Day Out (about poverty, with vague similarities with the better Romain Virgo songs) even rising a bit above the already” high quality” average. There is not really a song that I would classify as “filler”. The last “meditative” and spiritual song, Lightning Brimstone Fire, also serves for good measure, as a mellow finish. It stylistically departs a bit from reggae in the strict sense, to some indeterminate, more acoustic guitar/percussion genre, yet somehow “fits”.

So a good, perhaps even great, album, with few weak points. Mostly in the conscious (New) Roots vein, with on this album no ill-advised (digital) Dancehall or Hip-hop experiments, as some even great, talented Reggae artists resorted too (Ginjah too on later albums, I understood), with varied results. This, on the other hand, is just great, quality New Roots Reggae, from start to end.

All in all, a “conscious” New Roots effort of solid quality, with several outstanding songs.

Playlist Album

Ads

Where to get it

Buy @ Apple Music
Ads

More Ginjah Music

Buy @ Apple Music