REVIEW: Spiritual – Awakening

By Liam Monaghan

Introducing Spiritual, who? Spiritual, not many people know about Spiritual’s early life but now they know the name. Over the last few months Spiritual has been on the tongue of many Reggae critics and deejays around the globe and he has a new album which he has dropped. There is a certain level of authenticity in Spirituals voice that takes you back to the days of Culture and Winston Rodney Burning Spear with that old school Rebel Dread style. The Album was recorded at Specialists studio on Half Tree Hill and Bobby Digital’s studio. There’s power in his voice and always a conscious vibe with Spiritual, which should make the album very exciting.

Blackman Story
A really solid way to start the album and Spirituals voice really resembles a Winston Rodney and if he sang Marcus Garvey then im sure he wouldn’t be far off sounding perfect. This tracks mission statement is exactly what It say in the title. An interesting story and the uniqueness of Spirituals voice really makes the track unique. The Riddim is fluffy and bouncing with guitar picking and some interesting drumming.

Stand Up To The Rasta
We open the track with a huge roar of a harmony, which will take you by surprise if you’ve got headphones in. The riddim is roots and has foundation vibes that compliments Spirituals unique voice. There are lots of mentions of Rasta related quotes and there are a fair few paintings of the rasta way of life in this track. The chorus has a good hook and will induce some foot tapping or head bopping.

Time Has Come
A little more upbeat on this track compared to the previous riddims. Spirituals voice is so unique I cant really describe it; he can practically talk the lyrics but also chant with a roar like blast. Theres plenty of catchy hooks in this track and I love the harmonies throughout the track as they really compliment Spirituals voice.

Interesting collaboration here with Iba Mahr. I was curious to hear how this track was going to turn out because Iba Mahrs delivery and style isn’t a million miles away from the delivery of Spiritual but they pass well. Iba’s voice mixes up the track a little and adds some flavor to the album. The track discusses Liberation and Babylon. The riddim itself is quite simple but then again, it’s giving the artists the platform to deliver their messages and story.

Rule Di World
I love horn lines of any sort and Rule Di World introduces a old school simple line of horns that mixed with the drumming if slowed down would make a ruthless dub track! This track really makes you think about what would you do if you ruled the world and what would you change? I truly thought provoking track to get to pondering life.  Please get Gregory Morris on this track and dub it up and bring forward the bass!

Give Thanks & Praise
I’ve no idea why but the introduction to this track reminded me of the Pink Panther and even the scale of Spirituals delivery is very similar to the Pink Panther tune. Regardless, I like this track apart from the bubbling sound occasionally; the track really doesn’t need it. I really like how spiritual rides the riddim and the harmonies give the vocals a boost that creates an element of power! A nice track and something a little different from Spiritual.

This track is a salute to Haile Selassie with mentions of royalty, Judia and Nazareth so we have quite Rasta influenced track. Interestingly enough its more of a chanting song that a upfront religious track which makes it a nice listen for the persons who don’t follow the religious aspect of Reggae music. Equal Rights & Justice ring out throughout and is an important message in this track. The riddim is upbeat but simple leaving the focus on the harmonies and Spirituals voice.

Show Me The Way
Droop Lion is on the collaboration on this record. The riddim is rootsy and slow in comparison to how the previous riddims have been going. Spiritual is the highlight in this track as Droops voice gets by, it’s the raw and grit in Spiritual’s voice that really comes in and kicks the song into touch. The message in this track is fairly straightforward with Jah jah showing the way and offering guidance.

The Lamb
A track called The Lamb really did capture my curiosity as what could Spiritual be trying to get across with this track. Well its definitely interesting! The riddim is quite tame and sounds quite straight forward with nothing actually that different from what you would expect from a Reggae riddim however, the lyrics make the track. Spiritual’s voice chants away with tones of Culture & Burning Spear which make the track a very easy listen.

Where Is The Love
Discussions of Spirituals Nazerne vow here and whether he would be tempted to break it. In the Hebrew Bible, a nazirite or nazarite is one who voluntarily took a vow This vow required the person to: Abstain from wine, wine vinegar, grapes, raisins, intoxicating liquors, vinegar made from such substances, and eating or drinking any substance that contains any trace of grapes. The track is built on a simple riddim with nothing too exciting but the track is based around the speeches within it and Its another thought provoking song from spiritual.

Free Africa
Another strong song here and there’s a catchy hook with a harmony to accompany it. I like the riddim on this track, its got some nice drumming arrangements with some gentle trumpets chirping in and out. Free Africa rings out over and over again and spirituals voice captures your attention throughout. A nice track overall as we nearly reach the end.

Want No more
“Feed me till want no more” is what you’ll be walking around chating to yourself whilst you’re doing the dishes or hovering for the next few days. I quite the riddim with some guitar solos ringing out in the bridges of the track which makes a nice change. I can see this being a special track when its played live with a fair amount of audience participation.

Tell Me
As we hurtle towards to the end of the album this track is called Tell me. It doesn’t really work for me, the riddim sounds very deep and dark with electric like guitars ringing out which just over shadows Spirtual’s words. I’ve noticed Morgan Heritage do this recently with their productions and that doesn’t exactly work for them either. Not particularly a huge fan of this riddim

Live Righteous
Last track on the album and a foundation roots rock Reggae riddim to finish the album, which I would deem successful. Spiritual takes more of a conversational approach with delivering his lyrics on this track. Interesting enough track to finish on and it’s a nice touch that hes returned to a roots track to finish the track.

Overall a really nice album which really poses thought provoking questions and certain songs really make you think about the decisions you make in life. Not many people know about Spiritual but I feel after this album im sure they will. It would be great to hear some dub remixes of a few of these tunes as I feel Spiritual’s voice would really suit a deep and heavy riddim with splashes and chilled out drumming with echoing and a walking bassline. A good listen and I hope he makes it over to Europe this year.