HIGHEST INTENTION – Universal Light

Highest Intention 2019

HIGHEST INTENTION - Universal Light

HIGHEST INTENTION –
Universal Light

Starting straight outta Frisco, progressive reggae group run the genre gamut to slow down time and ride easy.

In their seven years on the scene, the ensemble which singing guitarist Ben “Down” Lowe created to pursue his love for Jamaican have gone from strength to strength, so their first record is a result of the grooves’ careful grooming. Perhaps, too careful in some places, as the album careens to sunshine pop where it could do nicely with a bit of grit, but there’s nothing wrong with this approach given the subject of contagious opener “Morning Light” – featuring Karim Israel’s vocals – or the title track. The listener wouldn’t need a lot of imagination to picture pale folks skanking to the rocksteady of “Ocean” and forget that one-word titles aren’t exactly “Kaya” and that only instrumental “Bingi” has a whiff of Rastafari wafting around flute and beats.

Yet while a full-on roots experience is reserved for “Vibes” whose message, sweet as it may sound, can’t be ignored on lyrical level, a few of other numbers succumb to dub – with much gusto – and bare riddims for enhanced punch when things get too glossy or brass gets too blinding,.so that cuts like “Fat One” could bring gloomy seriousness into the light. With all their allure, though, “Reggae Paradise” and “Escape” won’t show a way out of there, but the anthemic licks of “Hold Your Own Love” will – quite effectively, leaving “Time So Slow” hang in timeless bliss.

Impressively using a Caribbean formula in continental conditions, this record is truly a ray of light.

****

April 2, 2019

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