Nazarenes Songs of Life

Nazarenes Songs of Life
I should know better than to make judgments about music based on geographical origin. Nevertheless, when I first got this CD towards the end of the summer, the prospect of two Ethiopian brothers living in Sweden doing roots reggae sent it to the bottom of the pile. Shame on me — this is the best roots album of the year! Featuring absolutely stunning harmonies in the mould of Israel Vibration, the songs and production will appeal to reggae fans young and old. The production is absolutely contemporary but without the Timbaland/Neptunes wannabe tricks that plagues so much music that comes out of Jamaica. In much the same way that African rap seems closer to the original values of hip-hop, this disc seems all the rootsier perhaps because of its distant origin. Imbued with warm dubwise touches, this concept album (in which every tune is called "Song of” something) succeeds on each track. Special highlights include the uplifting "Song of Consoling,” the tough "Song of Creation” and the tender "Song of Sharing.” But the brothers’ Tewolde genius falsetto tones come to the fore in the soul-drenched "Song of Mary Jane” — one of the great anti-crack songs ever written, strongly evoking the Temptations in subject matter and delivery. Also, the 100-proof aged soul of "Song of Mother Earth” is a remarkable bittersweet ode to the world in trouble featuring a bass line and chord changes right out of Stax/Volt. This is a modern classic, a true leftfield gem. (Heartbeat)