REVIEW: Micah Shemaiah – Roots I Vision

When it comes to Reggae music it can be a personal and subjective thing. Some people prefer the roots and foundation sounds, some prefer minimal stripped back riddims or some like the new wave of cleanly produced beats. Me personally, I’m a fan of big bass lines that hit you in your chest and horn lines that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention, Roots I Vision has just that!

By Liam Monaghan

I appreciate and fell in love with the ‘old school’ but I support and play out the ‘revival’ if that even is a term, Reggae never went away so its hardly a revival, either way, an artist that captures both of these worlds is Micah Shemaiah. I’ve been a huge fan of his music for a few years when he was brought to my attention through a demo I was sent. After appearing on the Reggae Roots & Bass show, his passion for original sounding music captured a sound and style I hadn’t heard.

Dubbed the “Leader of the revival of Jamaican Roots music” his conscious effort to make new music but keeping an authentic feel has always been in the DNA of his music and a perfect example of this is the new album for 2017 titled Roots I Vision. It’s his 4th Album and a collaboration with wise based label Evidence Music. The album has been mixed by Umberto Echo who takes some responsibility for capturing that original sound. The album comes about on 16th February and will be available in Vinyl & Digital format.

A Breeze In The Shade
To kick off the album we have ‘A Breeze In The Shade’ which starts with Antonin Chatelain delivering some nice drumming before Primo Viviani takes the baseline for a walk setting the tone. The track is vibrant, fresh and has harmonies that ad subtle throughout the choruses. There are some key trademarks of dub echoes on the vocals and horns which Alexandre Schneiter is responsible for. A nice way to kick off the album.

Boom Shakalak
This one a Boom Shakalak when it drops! I’d say that on a proper sound system it would be very difficult not to have a dance or two-step to this track. Keeping the same tempo with that roots vibe, big bassline and crisp vocals from Micah keep the track fresh with that an original feel. A song of positivity and freedom.

Death Trap
A sultry tone on this riddim. There are haunting keys that bring us into this track which brings us down from the uplifting vibe of the previous 2 tracks. The mixing and mastering in this track shows its quality in this track as its more stripped back and there isn’t an abundance of effects or noise, its bass, drum, Micah, backing vocals from Julien Plaza, Patricia Soares De Carvalho and some airy dub splashes on drums.

Roots I Vision
The title track of the Album and as Micah shouts to us at the start ‘Roots Time!’ It certainly is. As a mainly roots and foundation album, this is the track for the album. With every artist there’s that one track on the album that normally gets a hype and a forward and becomes the single from the album, this track is that track on this album. Subtle riddim with all the key fundamentals of the band and Micah.

Soul Rider
Big Horns! Gives that old school King Tubby Vibe or even a touch of The Scientist. When we get past the horns at the start, the riddim is quite stripped back and bare. The track is positivity and is the ‘live track’ that would forward at a festival. Micah’s vocals never stretch to the point that his voice ever tires or cracks, its subtle and he knows his range which is pushed in this track but he delivers!

Throw No Stone
Full appreciation for Antonin Chatelain’s drumming structure in this track as it’s not a style we’ve heard so far which keep the album fresh. Its easy to listen to an album and it sounds alike and it can become boring very quickly with artists not willing to mix up or not push themselves into new areas, Micah keeps his style and feel but the subtle differences made in the riddim keep the track fresh.

Zion Dub mix
To be honest, there isn’t much you can say about this, it does exactly what it says on the tin. Its weighty with a thumping baseline and the drumming is rigid and on the offbeat, there’s that added a kick to the riddim. The key plays throughout which are nice, there’s not too much going on the track but as far as a dub mix goes, it’s nice!.

Zion Trod Dub mix
Would you like some more Horns and a whomping bass? yes please, sir. Another solid dub mix here. Big bassline and some military style drumming keep a steppas vibe to the riddim. Julien Plaza, Patricia Soares De Carvalho’s harmonies are sporadically splashed into the mix and its done cleverly.

Zion Trod
The Dub Mix takes form from this track. Micah chants about standing with the conquering lion and how we’re all going back to Zion. Its a nice piece of music and it isn’t pushing religion or politics, it’s subtle. The production is on point as it has been with the rest of the album, there’s a really good dub feel in this track. Not a huge live element in this track unless there’s a breakdown and the crowd is chanting the chorus, regardless a big tune!

Last Track to discuss. A nice riddim and its positive, what else could it be? The riddim structure is the same throughout allowing Micah to deliver his lyrics and messages and we have to salute the work of Mathias Liengme on the Piano. A nice track to finish off the album, it may not have been in order but in terms of reviewing, it’s a nice way to finish off the album.

This album did by far not disappoint, we were gifted with plenty of albums last year from artists we were expecting big things and some didn’t live up to that hype, however Micah doesn’t have to push the boundaries that I often say some artists have to do, his subtle changes throughout his tracks make that slight difference to orchestrate a whole new feel to a traditional beat. A very impressive piece and a very good way to start 2018.

Roots I Vision will be released February 16, 2018, and is produced by Evidence Music.

Check out the interview With Micah we had earlier in 2017.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *