The new album Hand in Hand from DJ/Producer Riva Starr can just about be summed up in one word: party. The 15 track collection (featuring two bonus tracks) features a smooth mix of jazz and electronic beats and guest vocals, resulting in the perfect party soundtrack.
Starr collaborates with a bunch of artists for this record, including English rapper Roots Manuva (We Got This Ting) and 7 songs with Rssll. The entire album is fast-paced and upbeat with a recurring trend of contrasting the cheerful music with dark themed lyrics.
The next song, Absence, has a bit of a darker vibe than the first track, but is still upbeat and smooth. The song blends seamlessly into the Italian Si e’ spentoil Sole (featuring Vinicio Capossela), increasing the tempo slightly before Nobody’s Fool explodes into a powerful, catchy dance track.
Am I Not Alone keeps up the fast tempo before things slow down in Detox Blues which is a bit darker than the previous songs both musically and lyrically (“If Depression don’t get you; then the drugs will”).
The Care Song brings back the positive, dance party vibes with the help of Bob Andy’s vocals (“Know nothing about you, but I like you”) and a catchy instrumental backdrop. This is the song for warm nights and cold drinks with friends in the middle of Summer.
No Man’s Land begins with a sinister sounding instrumental intro before the sound of guest vocalist Carmen Consoli’s voice emerges in a powerful, head-bobbing performance. This song has a bit of a dark feel as well, complete with an eerie violin rhythm.
The title track Hand in Hand is the sixth song to feature Rssll but despite featuring on so many songs, the collaboration manages to avoid sounding repetitive, with a different vocal style. A very catchy, relaxed style of song, this is easily an album highlight.
Things slow down for the instrumental Columbine Sept Heures, which features some impressive rock-style guitar shredding against an electronic beat background, creating a cool, jazzy blend.
Upside Down picks the pace back up again before moving into another, faster paced instrumental track In the Morning that slows down as it winds down to close the album. The first bonus track DubLife (featuring Horace Andy) is a busy dance track which pushes genre boundaries, blending jazzy electronic beats with slow, lingering dub notes and switching between fast and slow tempos.
The second bonus track Ghosts (featuring Speech Debelle) explores a hip-hop sound over long, slow beats to produce what is probably the album’s darkest sounding song.
Overall, Hand in Hand is a peppy, unique and adventurous collection of smooth sounds and anyone who can get through it resisting the urge to dance around the whole way through it is a stronger person than I am.