Easy Star All-Stars - First Light
As always, an ESAS album is a team effort. The score is a little different on First Light, because this is their first gathering of original reggae tunes under the moniker of the Easy Star All-Stars. While I wouldn’t begin labeling this an indie-classic from the get-go, it’s certainly a breath of fresh music, just in the nick of time for a formation near being pigeon-holed as a cover act.
First Light features 14 songs created by all of the members of the Easy Star All-Stars, along with guest appearances by Cas Haley, Junior Jazz, The Meditations, Tony Tuff, Lady Ann and Daddy Lion Chandell. Produced by Michael Goldwasser.
The lead track “Don’t Stop The Music” begins with an echo of female vocals and traditional reggae strum. This song sets the tone for the entire recording, strong in vibe and tradition, but fairly new age for the style. For a remixed version of this track, see the last song “Don’t Stop Dub Music”.
Brass is a huge portion of this album, as songs like “Break Of Dawn” lean on horns and a vocal presence. Also evident on the album is a bit of Swagger in songs like “Paid My Dues” and “Reggae Pension”. Fairly aggressive lyrically, but more of a relaxed vibe musically, “Reggae Pension” has a strong message, paired with a gorgeous forum of mixed-instrumentation. Another track here is “Unbelievable” featuring Cas Haley”, a wonderful tweaking of Easy Star All-Stars and Haley’s tone makes for an instant favorite.
By far my favorite is “In The Light”, smooth and sultry, and so middle of the road, this is the type of song that could make Easy Star All-Stars more loved in other genres. Full of a Soul/R&B likeness, this has a sort of Roy Hargrove mentality.
It’s been eight-plus years since the release of Dub Side Of The Moon and it’s two other subsequent cover albums. This was absolutely the perfect timing for an album of originals. More impressively, and importantly for Ras I Ray (bass, vocals), this was done with a perfected execution compiled from so many very talented artists.
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