Before we get into the guts of this, we need to first acknowledge some blanket observations on music genres. And before we do that, we need to acknowledge that I am an adorably pudgy white man in his early thirties who has slowed down a bit and doesn’t rock nearly as hard as he did a decade ago.
Certain genres of music are not known for their originality. It’s true. Punk, Blues and Reggae are prime examples of this. Now, I love these genres of music for what they are. These styles are all about the drive. The music moves and sets a tone for the story, but on the whole, tends to fall into a story-telling format that relies heavily on the vocals for any real type of distinction.
Now that I’ve grossly over-simplified much of my favorite music and likely pissed off a fair amount of people allow me to dive into dissecting Skycatcher by 10 Foot Ganja Plant.
Overall, it’s a solid reggae record. It provides all the ingredients you’d want to see – a few great nods to Jah, a stable groove with a moderate tempo (in fact, I’d be willing to bet there’s not a song aside from “In The Garden” that ranged outside of 60-70 BPM) that is consistent and impossible not to bop your head to. Men with awesome accents speak-sing in rhythmic patterns that are at once unexpected and intrinsic. In short, it’s everything you’d want and expect out of a reggae record.
But it would be a crime to stop there.
Several stand out tracks on this collection I’d like to highlight, and each for a different strength. First off, is the song “It’s True” – which is filled with high tremelo, hollow sounding guitar licks that won’t impress for their skill as much for their ‘just right’ placement and conservative usage; additionally, the vocals are superb. Floating catchy harmonies like a wayward summer breeze, there is a good chance this will be the one you will catch yourself singing four hours later. Also in this gorgeous vein is the lovely “Sing and Dance” – impossible not to smile on this one.
Similarly, I really enjoyed “Collect The Trophy” for the story-telling aspect of it, the resolving line writing style, and the simple fact that it could be sung by/about Manchester United and not Arsenal.
“Sounding Zone” is another one that would otherwise fall in line with virtually any other Reggae instrumental, save for an absolutely killer horn line, some gorgeous sax and trumpet solos, and a sorrowful guitar solo that could make a weaker man cry. Musicianship is displayed here, not in face-melting guitar or blistering horn riffs, but rather in the delicate subtlety of accent and contribution. And let’s face it – if you wanted those kinds of solos, you wouldn’t be digging through reggae records for them in the first place.
A personal favorite is “Hypocrites in Town” for the lyrical content. Great creativity and playful wording combined with a resolving hook to drive it home after each verse make this a song stand out. I know I enjoyed this one enough to have it played on repeat a few times before moving on, and I’m certain you’ll agree that it’s a high-point on this collection.
All told, this album holds its own among the genre. Enjoy it for its pure and simple grooves. Go and play this on head phones and walk around in public and watch your worries take a back seat. If you wanted to give someone an “intro to reggae jams” mix-tape, you could easily grab a handful of tracks from this CD. It is well produced, light-hearted and it makes the whitest of people feel like they can dance.