Review: Iba Mahr Diamond Sox Album 2015

By Liam Monaghan

With so much solid and positive Reggae music being produced and so many artists touring across the globe spreading the wave of modern Reggae, as we come to the end of 2015 there is still time for one or two shinning artists to drop their album, one of those which just dropped, comes from the fantastic Iba Mahr.

To give some background on Iba Mahr, real name Mario Greaves, has a strong interest and link to African culture. When appearing on Reggae Roots & Bass (Liam’s Radio show), Mario explained what Iba Mahr meant, being ‘Iba’ which is an African name, meaning Humble and Calm while ‘MaHr’ is really an acronym, meaning Mario of Harar, Harar which is a small province in Ethiopia.

In the past Iba has worked and also been mentored by Reggae Veteran Max Romeo and worked with Fattis Burrell. There are clear influence within Iba’s music ranging from Reggae to Roots to Lovers Rock and all those influences come together in this new album.

The 15 track album was produced by Jermaine Edwards and Roland Mcdermot for Born Rollin Productions and will be distributed by the VP Records affiliate, VPAL.
According to the artist, “Diamond Sox features members of my musical family such as the legendary saxophonist Dean Fraser, Capleton, Tarrus Riley, Jah Mali, Notis and Jah 9”. Iba Mahr also credits producers Michael Howell, Oneness Records, Conquering Lion Sound and Conrad Scarlett for their contributions to this album.

Roots record to start the album, lots of horns and guitar solos to bring us into the track before a break down of a roots reggae feeling riddim. Iba has such an interesting voice, its difficult to describe his sound, he is most recognisable by his distinguished long chopping vocals. Lots of harmonies and a simple smooth record to start the album.

Glory of The King
Very different from the previous record, lots of echoing and reverbing on the riddim gives an almost dub feel to this track. Glory Of The King is very much ‘less is more’ in terms of the song itself is very basic, guitar, drums, keys but that’s all it needs, very simple with some catchy hooks from Iba.

Clean & Pure Ft Capleton
First collab of the album, and it works! Another simple riddim, not much happening, jumpy keys fill the majority of the song to keeps the riddim and the key in this record is the contrast in Iba and Capletons voices. Capleton has a gritty aggressive style when delivering whereas Iba’s soft and harmonious style works in contrast. Some nice verses and a good hook.

Sound A Alarm
Tempo change, lots of elements in this tune what we are finding in a lot of the new riddims coming out of the Reggae scene at the moment, lots of high pitched keys, quicker guitar strokes and solid drum arrangements. Some interesting comments about guns in palms. The breakdowns in this record are nice, have an authentic sound about them and we can hear Iba’s lyrics cleanly.

Weeping And Mourning
Back to a more familiar roots sounding record. I don’t mind this song, there could be something else in this album though to not run the risk of it sounding the same. Iba’s lyrics are extremely thought out well and tell a story which translates well throughout the record.

Travelling Home
Really enjoy this riddim, sounds very retro, the use of horns to introduce the track builds a strong air of strength and sets the rest of the song up for a different vibe to what we’ve heard recently. Iba’s delivery and style on this record is choppy, some quick segments and some slower. The chorus has another good hook which is harmonised.

Will I Wait In Vain
A bit of Umppf in this track, a much needed spark, Iba stretches his vocal tones and this track is much more vibrant that other tracks, the chours is catchy and you can imagine people to be joining in with the words at some of his many concerts next year.

You Give Me Joy
Would of liked to hear Kabaka or Protoje on this one as the riddims suits their tones well, However I feel this is Iba’s take on Lovers Rock. Lots of passion comes through on this record and there’s a element of Love in the air. “You give me joy, I love it how you say, and you need no one but I”

Fame In our Court ft Jah9
Was really looking forward to hearing this tune when I saw Jah9 jumped on this tune. A stripped back riddim with a guitar focus, I would like to put Sizzla Give Me A Try on this riddim. I’m a Huge fan of Jah9 before she came on Reggae Roots & Bass. The creator of Jazz Dub, brings nice elements to this tune, probably one of my favorites on this album.

Mama Rosie
Like this tune, good vibes, there’s been a lack of mum appreciation songs out recently. Key fundamentals of a modern reggae song are back with guitars, keys, and harmonies. Strong lyrics are the main key in this tune, I’ve played it a fair few time on the show and always gets a nice record, definitely a rockers tune.

Diamond Sox / Remix
Love Love Love Love Love Love this record, one of the first songs that spring to mind when people ask what ar the best songs in the last few years. The riddim is so simple and choppy but fresh and the delivery in vocals from Iba make you listen to every word. The remix is also wicked; Tarrus Riley really brings new catchy hooks an clever lyrics to the table and makes this tune probably one of the stronger songs on the album.

Time Is Now ft Jahmali
Another Collab which should have been earlier on in the album in my personal opinion but I love the authentic drums in this record and the horns that wander through the air throughout. Jahmali’s tones give a more R&B style feel on the chorus but it is welcomed! A really nice record.

Retro feeling with horns, echos and dubbing meaning another strong song. Iba’s sound comes through across clear here with passion with some trademark chopping extended vocals. It’s the minimal aspect I like in this song, just simple drums, not too much guitar allowing us to hear Iba.

Having Fun
Really like this tune also, Features the amazing Dean Fraser. It seems like the album became progressively stronger towards the end of the album. Im a huge fan of Iba Mahr and admire is song writing and identifiable voice and this is a nice little album. Solid reggae music that suits the masses and Reggae lovers, I can see many non Reggae lovers enjoying this album as it ticks the boxes for many of stereotypes you may expect from a Reggae Record but it smashes through those and offers a lot more. An upbeat and saxxy style to finish the album.

A nice album and very well written, looking forward to seeing Iba in 2016!

Diamond Sox will be released this November 20th, 2015 on VPAL Music