While Big Youth was in Aotearoa at Soundsplash 2006, he stated that “Reggae is a seed that we planted and now this tree is bearing fruit.” Here in the Pacific and specifically Aotearoa this fruit is bands like House Of Shem, Unity Pacific, Katchafire and Sweet & Irie to name a very few.
The album is cleverly named Localize It, a word play on Peter Tosh’s 1976 album Legalize It. In the same vein as Peter Tosh’s No Nuclear War album, Sweet & Irie sing the lyrics ‘sending French letters with reggae sounds,’ in tribute to Aotearoa’s own Herbs. This reference shows that the fruit never falls far from the tree.
After getting irie and listening to the album from start to finish I had a real sense of positive forward movement, summer vibes and Jah Love, which happens to be the name of the opening track on the album. The second verse of Jah Love gives a good introduction to who Sweet & Irie are – ‘Ross play that one drop…Junior jam me bass line…Mike and T keys…Tuk and D lead u astray…Tina singing sweet sound…me to you Sweet & Irie too I am Edward Ru’.
Localize It is very focused on one-drop, R&B harmonies and skanking rhythms. Love seems to be the main theme throughout the album however it does also feature many other conscious messages. Examples are tunes Mama Don’t Cry and Reggae Music while Uncle Bob pays homage to the right and honorable Robert Nesta Marley and also tributes Rastafari.
The tune Crazy, with the lyrics ‘crazy for loving you’ struck a cord with me, though in the opposite vein to which Ed was singing in. This album has a lot of love songs which isn’t really my cup of tea but for all the lovers out there I recommend this album.
I like the the use of the harmonica throughout the album, (an instrument that isn’t often used in reggae) however personally I feel that more percussion instruments and influence would enhance the overall sound of Sweet & Irie. The acoustic tune Everyday (I Feel Like Irie) is one of my favourite tunes on the album, just because of the pure simplicity of the message and musical structure.
The two bonus tracks Feels Like Love and Take It Out South feature Horsemen family and Brother D (both representing Dawnraid) blur the lines between reggae and hip-hop which is always a good thing.
All in all Sweet & Iire and Dawnraid have put together an album full of positive reggae vibrations, (also very nicely presented with a full fold-out CD case and inner booklet). I look forward to seeing Sweet & Irie live some time in the near future.