REVIEW: Etana ‘Reggae Forever’ Album

Internationally acclaimed reggae songstress Etana is gearing up to launch her 5th album ‘Reggae Forever’ on the 8th March 2018. The date is significant to many as it commemorates International Women’s Day.

By DJ 745, Irie Jamms Radio Show, WorldAReggae

Etana or ‘The Strong One’ is no stranger to music fans across the globe since her arrival on the music scene over a decade ago with some powerful roots reality songs in ‘Wrong Address’ and ‘Roots’ which culminated in her critically acclaimed debut album ‘The Strong One’. Fast forward to 2018 and Etana presents ‘Reggae Forever’ via Tads Records -a 14 track album available on all digital platforms, compact disc and a vinyl release is promised for her fans later on in 2018.

The core of this album is reggae yet fuses influences of soul, rhythm and blues, dancehall and lovers rock which comes as no surprise given that Etana has spent considerable amounts of time living both in Jamaica and America. She returned back ‘home’ to Jamaica late in 2017 not detracted from the rise in the murder rates seen in recent times.

The 14 track album features uplifting messages of unity and hope, tales of self-love, freedom, stories of relationships and an ode to Rastafari all beautifully crafted to match her distinctive yet soulful vocal tones.

Album opener ‘Free Pt. 2’ is a worthy follow up to 2011’s ‘Free’ and opens up the album with the thought-provoking

“Water flows downtown but I do not drown,
money flows uptown still I wear 
the crown,
no prison can hold me unlike the tree
with my roots on the ground
 blue skies within my reach..
I am free”

Raw and undiluted Etana at her best opening up the album in a song recorded at Rymshot Studios in Fort Lauderdale and sets the mood for the remaining tracks on the album.

‘Spread Love’ features an uplifting, almost infectious quality to it urging the people of the world to spread undiluted love to everybody young and old, no matter what race or colour, a universal peace cry. Given the trials and tribulations, people all across the world are facing, ‘Spread Love’ offers hope and encouragement to people torn in conflicts and wars, climate change, destruction of natural resources, poverty, religious conflicts… the list could go on. A powerful rhythm section featuring a melodious organ shuffle midway through the song only adds to the powerful vocals.

Talking of infectious rhythms, they don’t come any sweeter than the uptempo, swinging rhythm backing ‘You’re the One’. Etana is in a feel-good mood proclaiming her love for ‘the one’ and her vocals match the musicianship of Dean Fraser and Lamont ‘Monty’ Savory.

There is a definite air of dancehall flavours in ‘My Man’, ‘No Money No Love’ (feat: Nutty O), and ‘6 Mins – 21 Secs’. Former single ‘My Man’ premiered on the Reggae Fest rhythm by DJ Frass back in 2017 and has an accompanying video directed by Icey Jace Film Factory and was recorded at Tads Recording Studio in Kingston Jamaica along with ‘6 Mins – 21 Secs’ which sees Etana detracting all ‘haters’ and reminding us of her roots in August Town which she will never forget and asks the rhetorical question “How mi fi turn mi back pon sweet Jamaica?”.

‘Sprung’ see Etana addressing a tale of rudeboy love which she can’t hold back any longer and asks ‘What’s a girl supposed to do when she’s headover heels for you’ over a mystical rub-a-dub rhythm built at Rymshot Studios and former single ‘Burned’ with accompanying video directed by Jay Will are sure to have listeners asking themselves to take a deep look within themselves. Tales of relationship troubles are the subject of ‘Carry You’ with Etana offering upliftment and motivation through times of fears and troubles. Special mention to Dean Pond, Tony Williams, Kevaun Williams, Jason Farmer and Llamar ‘Riff Raff’ Brown for creating a magnificent one drop rhythm- Reggae Forever!

Etana is in no mood to let the ‘haters’ of the world detract her on her musical journey and hypocrites and backbiters are addressed on ‘Destination’. Think of a modern-day tale of a message portrayed in reggae classics such as ‘Plastic Smile’ (Black Uhuru) and ‘Hypocrite’ (The Heptones). The real question ‘Destination’ brings is why there is so much backbiting, jealously and hatred amongst mankind? ‘Fighting for Nothing’ has a soulful vocal performance from Etana and addresses the question of how important the colour of our skin is and pleads for universal love.

‘Reggae Forever’ is an excellent 14 track album filled with musical scorchers from start to finish with some original rhythms and thought-provoking lyrical content from Etana. Reggae has always had a tradition of ‘versioning’ rhythms from yesteryear and it’s positively refreshing to hear original compositions across an entire album all backed by exemplary musicianship and production. Clearly, a project that has taken time to put together in a well thought out manner with a good balance of roots and lovers themes. Other standout songs include ‘Soldier’, ‘Good Enough’ and the final track ‘Yes I Know’ sees Etana affirming her faith to Jah.

A 10/10 from DJ 745 and the WorldAReggae crew for ‘Reggae Forever’ which is certain to be a standout album for 2018.
‘Reggae Forever’ will be released on CD and Vinyl.