Jim the Boss’ latest endeavour, Hudson Soul out via Boom One Records, is an earnest homage to the sounds of 1970s Jamaica, one that wisely features intriguing yet on-point production far beyond the stylistic foundation. The result is the right type of timeless music, where grooves lead the way to somewhere deeper; a fact that’s doubly true as the proceeds are being donated to the family of the late Dan Klein of Daptone Records reggae band, The Frightnrs, who recently passed away following a diagnosis of the disease ALS in late-2015.
Rolling in on some vintage keys, opener “Take Over” is a feature for the slightly understated vocals of Jah Adam, questioning whether America is really ‘the land of the free’ in light of Babylon’s destructive plans. With specifics like ‘you can feel the ripple effect coming from policy,’ this is hardly a perfunctory exercise. The steady bass and solid skank propel the track forward, creating a comforting classic vibe.
Propelled equally by the striding bass and the pulsing horn lines, “Type A” showcases the ever-stellar Victor Rice while Dave Hillyard provides the lovely saxophone, which brings both depth and dynamism, pairing well with the riddim. Hypnotizing – and an album standout – the balance of light and heavy tones works wonders.
Next, “Dark Art” lets the dub haze thicken far further. The keys come and go, while drum and bass remain in control. An interesting shift comes two-thirds in, with some nice changes in dynamics. Jah Adam returns for “Alkaline Girl,” albeit in an altered role (beyond the intro). Here he is contained within a far more dubwise pattern than before, primarily appearing – ‘mi want a princess that a alkaline’ – during breaks in the riddim, which is again led by the ever-potent bass.
“In My Soul” feels more resigned, almost a bit eerie. Mere teases of Ptah Kruud’s heartfelt vocals emerge from the thick dub forest: coy walking bass line, tight drums, meandering melodies. Seemingly following a similar model, “Spectro-Chrome,” a rework of a cut from the band Kiwi, logically employs a much wider roster of musicians and – even though the bass leads – it’s the echoing horns which evolve throughout the track as well as the gradually-increasing echoes that make this yet another heavyweight dub tune.
Seemingly aware of that weight, the album relaxes with “Oatmeal,” retreating back at least a decade in influence to a more optimistic vibe. Following the opening melody, the guitar keeps pace with the bass, then far from a predictable plod, ample elements rise and fall – all to great effect. “Fire Alarm” gives the percussion some more room to speak within a sparser groove, before “Le Ondes” slowly ambles in. The finale is spacier than previous cuts, the guitar work done thoughtfully before the crashes of keys create contrast. A graceful exit, rather than hurried, which eventually blurs into psychedelia.
Hudson Soul is a strong showing from Jim the Boss – who also runs a recording studio and performs live dub as Hoboken Hi-Fi. This release is full of musicality, passionately produced and voiced, and all to support a talented musician’s family in need of financial support. Dan Klein had a powerful and distinctive voice, to say the least. If you don’t know, or even if you do, please check out The Frightnrs “Sharon”.
The Groove Thief
.the future of dub is the present.
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