Jamaican singer/songwriter Etana has just released one of if not the most anticipated reggae albums of the year. I Rise is Etana’s fourth studio album and is a combination of funky reggae grooves with powerful and emotional lyrics. Considered to be one of the queens of reggae, Etana first burst onto the scene back in 2008 with her debut album The Strong One which earned her a nomination for best reggae artist at the MOBO awards. Since then the Jamaican star has released two very successful albums that have both made the top 15 reggae charts in the US, and now the soulful singer is back with another quality piece of art.
Etana hooks up with veteran reggae producer Clive Hunt for this project and lets just say their chemistry does not disappoint. Hunt who started his career playing the trumpet for Byron Lee & The Dragonaires brings an experienced and polished sound to the record that combines well with Etana’s smooth vocals. The album opens with Selassie Is The Chapel, a cover of The Orioles 1953 track Crying In The Chapel, the song was also covered by The Wailers and the late Elvis Presley. Whilst Etana’s version is only 1:43 it leaves a lasting impression that sets the tone for the rest of the album.
Etana’s soothing vocals continue on How Long, a passionate melody that expresses the singers concern for the people of her country ‘How long will the people suffer, how long will the people struggle’. On My Way follows with a serene pan flute intro which then leads into an explosion of instruments that brings the album to life.
The party starts when Stepping Out Of Babylon (another cover) blasts through the speakers, the catchy tune features the perfect amount of crisp trumpets and sleek percussions to combine perfectly with Etana’s gorgeous vocals creating in my opinion the highlight of the album. Richest Girl keeps the harmonious vibes alive by showcasing Etana’s vocal skills, her triumphant notes are peaceful to the ear and are sure to send goosebumps down the back of your neck.
Etana takes things down to a more melancholy mood with Passing Thru, a heartbreaking track about cheating husbands and fathers who don’t live up to their responsibilities ‘with another woman and even another baby’. The somber mood continues with Trigger, a very powerful and touching story of a child apologizing to his mother for ‘pulling the trigger again’ even though he promised he wouldn’t. Jam Credits closes the album with a chilled beat that sees Etana give thanks to everyone who contributed to the record.
The only fault I have with this release is that some songs tend to sound the same which can feel like its dragging on at times, but apart from that it’s a solid album for the Jamaican star. Even though Etana talks about a lot of negative issues, I Rise is an album of celebration. A passionate record from one of Reggae’s most powerful voices.