Review: Julian Marley- As I am

Julian ‘Juju’ Marley unleashes his fourth full length studio album As I Am produced by Ghetto Youths International and Zojak World Wide almost ten years after his last album- Grammy nominated Awake. The 17 track album features siblings Damian “Junior Gong” Marley and Stephen ‘Ragga’ Marley as executive producers and producers. Aaron Mahfeldt and Zoe Espitia are also credited as executive producers.

By DJ 745, Irie Jamms Radio Show, WorldAReggae.

Live instrumentation is a theme throughout the album and makes a striking first impression. Releasing his debut album (Lion in the Morning) as far back as 1996 one thing for sure is that Julian is a master of time and clearly has a focus on doing things organically and in the right time.

When asked about the meaning behind the album and why the long wait between albums, Julian explained ‘As I Am.’ “The title means exactly what it says, ‘As I Am,’” he said. “Each song is an expression from within, each feel represents who I am. I was inspired by GOD -life- love – family- people and the social issues we live in today and from ever since. Music is to gather the people under the umbrella of love and the love is in the music.”

2018 gave us a teaser of what to expect on this album with the release of single Straighter Roads with its amazing acoustic guitar chords and accompanying video (shot by Luis Dreams) with Julian walking through fields and a dusty road complete with guitar case in hand. Produced by UK’s AG Zilla, Straighter Roads is a song signifying a change is just around the corner and which can resonate with the people of the world going through turbulent times –living in warfare, poverty, famine or political change.

Covering a wide spectrum of musical beats and themes ranging from raw one drop roots, reggae and ska it’s an album filled with upliftment, inspiration, a deep sense of spirituality and questions-unanswered questions like why we are living in a War Zone home and abroad at the hands of the politicians? Countless lives continue to be lost across the world in battles in all four corners and Juju asks the question “What’s it worth?… Live with Love”.

Julian Marley is ready to break free from oppression and poverty in a rallying call of unity and love in Broken Sail over a lively rhythm comparing himself to a ship with a broken sail many miles from shores but he doesn’t want to fall overboard- he sings passionately in a heart warming way searching for a solution or a cure to all his pains and in ultimate search of victory.

Album opener and former single Are You The One (Reggae Is My Name) is straight one drop and I’d put a bet that that’s Aston Barrett Jnr is playing on this spiritual introduction to the album showcasing the healing powers within music itself.

‘Reggae music spin through the levels and stages
Teaching the people since ages
Bringing joy into desolate places
To energize so you never get wasted’

Papa has an uplifting rhythm backing Julian’s energising vocals, giving thanks to the Creator for life and all the blessings bestowed upon us. This song is surely crying out for an extended dub workout!

Spragga Benz
has had a longstanding relationship with the Marley family going back at least two decades probably dating to when Julian was making his first footsteps as a recording artist and he joins Julian on ‘Panic Mind State’ on a lively combination as does upbeat affair Shaggy on Too Hot which is just pure energy from the very first drop and probably the track with the most crossover appeal.

Julian Marley’s JujuRoyal Company could quite easily incorporate the high grade Chalice Load as an introduction to his herbal brand and features some great musicianship as Julian is in a lively mood whereas Cooling In Jamaica features a much more laid back vocal style backed by some fine harmonies as Julian sips on a juice on the white warm sands-sheer bliss!

Ska is well represented with two tracks in Baby Lotion featuring The Tamlins in fine form and an update of The Wailers 1965 classic What’s New Pussycat featuring Beenie Man which was originally recorded by The Wailers for Coxsone Dodd.

Can’t Cool The Fire features a more militant style, almost mesmerizing rhythm as Julian lets off a barrage of warnings against ‘dutty babylon’ As a bonus, the final track on the album I Am The Sound carries no vocals and is in fact a dubwise workout featuring the melodica from Addis Pablo. A real treat for listeners to appreciate the real beauty of dub music.

There are many more gems on the album including Magic of Love (Compassion), Hey Jack and Biology which mean that this album is sure to be a favourite amongst music lovers worldwide who will no doubt be anticipating Julian Marley’s As I Am tour.

17 Songs, 1 Hour, 7 Minutes
Released: January 25, 2019
℗ 2018 Ghetto Youths International & Zojak World Wide


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