Review: Inna De Yard – The Soul Of Jamaica

The good news is that further to its initial release in March 2017, Chapter Two records has now re-released Inna de Yard’s – The Soul Of Jamaica – the ensemble’s ninth album – with 4 bonus bumper tracks. This album – recorded under the Kingston sky line in just 4 days – is characterised by rootsy rhythms set to righteous reasonings.

Inna De Yard – ‘The Soul Of Jamaica’

Wagram Music/Chapter Two Records
By Gerry McMahon

The Viceroys set the album’s tone, opening with their 1980’s anthem Love is the Key, before Ken Boothe’s Let The Water Run Dry takes you on a delightful jaunty journey. Thereafter, Lloyd Parks’ resurrects his lively 1970s’ classic Slaving, making good use of percussive and vocal backing, before Kush McAnuff follows suit via Black To I Roots, as an appropriate homage to the no longer living legend that was trombonist Nambo Robinson.
It’s hard to keep a good man down, and so the Congos’ Cedric Myton next up givesYouth man the full falsetto treatment, in a rendition reminiscent of the Congos’ 1979 release. This is well balanced by the considered Crime from Var, a relatively new kid on the block (who serves as the lead singer with the Pentateuch Movement), with what is widely acknowledged as one of the compilation’s strongest tracks. It’s followed by Kiddus I with Jah power, Jah glory, set to a similar rootsy rhythm, as it calls into question where real power resides in the ongoing struggle between states and their leaders or the judgemental Jah. No competition I’d say!

It’s no surprise that Ken Boothe then does a lovely vocal job on his successful Artibella classic, giving full flight to the plight of the cuckolded lover. Rootz Underground’s Steve Newland next up lends more balance to the age range, via his Sign of the times rendition, as he lets his gravel bass voice do justice to some more advisory words for the listeners. Thereafter Winston McAnuff returns – most ably assisted by a selection of female vocalists – to deliver ‘Secret’, in another of this compilation’s better tracks.

Further offsetting any age imbalance in this Yard team, the much lauded Derajah then gives Stone the royal treatment, extolling the virtues of patience, love and righteousness and reminding us of the old refrain that ‘the stone that the builder refuse shall be the head corner stone’. Lloyd Park’s Money for Jam also maintains the album’s bouncy feel, as the song’s assuaging and uplifting rhythm recounts the predicament of the world’s wage slave. Winston Bo-Pee Bowen’s Thanks & Praises then eases the pace (and closes the original set) with reverence to His Imperial Majesty, via a nice mellow track, characterised by his tasteful guitar playing.

The bonus tracks kick off with Security in the Streets, featuring Kiddus I, set to a roots rhythm (again) dominated by percussion, with some very tasteful organ\synthesiser inputs. These inputs can be seen delivered creatively and live under the guidance of gentleman and living legend Robbie Lyn, when the collaboration takes to the road for its now frequent live concerts. Winston McAnuff next up adds another track entitled Ras Child, which serves to convey his gratitude to the powers that be for the gifts he’s been endowed with. Derajah then returns to stretch his vocal range, dovetailing with the celestial sentiments of His Name is Holy, before the Viceroys shut up shop – via a brass assisted Keep On Moving – in a manner similar to that in which they kicked off proceedings on the collection’s opening track.

Inna de Yard’s The Soul Of Jamaica may not have the necessary spin to peak the Billboard’s listing. However, it is a welcome addition to the reggae landscape, merging the zeitgeist of an authentic mountainside nyahbinghi session with contemporary concerns. It effectively joins young and old in an open air acoustic ‘one cut’ only ensemble recording, reminding us of our responsibility to live righteously.

This is effectively done, albeit moreso via musical maestros, well drilled drumming and chiming choirs than persistent preaching. Little wonder then that this release has received the multi-star status and ‘one of the best reggae albums’ assessment from some of the art’s harshest critics. Keep up the good work in that yard I say!

01. Love Is the Key feat. The Viceroys

02. Let The Water Run Dry feat. Ken Boothe

03. Slaving feat. Lloyd Parks

04. Black To I Roots feat. Kush McAnuff

05. Youthman feat. Cedric Myton

06. Crime feat. Var

07. Jah Power, Jah Glory feat. Kiddus I

08. Artibella feat. Ken Boothe

09. Sign of the Times feat. Steve Newland

10. Secret feat. Winston McAnuff

11. Stone feat. Derajah

12. Money for Jam feat. Lloyd Parks

13. Thanks & Praises feat. Bo-Pee

14. Security in the Streets feat. Kiddus I
15. Ras Child feat. Winston McAnuff
16. His Name is Holy feat Derajah
17. Keep on Moving feat The Viceroys