Review: 77 Jefferson – Truth & Love

Review: 77 Jefferson – Truth & Love

77 Jefferson – Truth & Love
Track Listing:
1.) Cool It Down
2.) Lovely
3.) On The Run (feat. Dan Kelly of Fortunate Youth)
4.) Call Me Up
5.) The Sound (feat. Eddie Blunt of High Tide)
6.) Keep On Movin’
7.) Waiting On
8.) Compare To Nothing
9.) Fast Girl
10.) So Special
11.) Truth & Love

The Pier Album Rating:

Record Label: GanJah Records
Release Date: May 6th, 2012
Official Website: 77 Jefferson’s Website

Group Background:
As a Midwestern courier for reggae music, 77 Jefferson may be in the midst of their busiest year ever; in and outside the studio. In 2008 Kansas City’s-own released their debut album Sledgehammer, followed by 2009’s Rarities and 2010’s In The Right Mood. In 2012 the 77 quartet progressed into a five some with the addition of singer and guitarist Justin Howard. With that, the microphone falls in the hands of two singers including long-time lead Joel Castillo ,with guest appearances by Fortunate Youth singer Dan Kelly, Eddie Blunt of High Tide, and Ikena Dupont of Cease Fiyah. Drummer and production specialist Miles Brown has produced all four of 77’s albums.

Subsequent to the release of Truth & Love, 77 Jefferson will also hit the road for their first tour of the west coast. The GanJah records crew including Josh Heinrichs, SkillinJah, and Lance Sitton will also be on the bill. Seventy-seven will also take a few offshoots from the tour and perform separately on select dates in California.

Album Review:
With Truth & Love, 77 Jefferson successfully cultivated their soundscape to accompany a paramount theme of unity and affection. It started with the early-2012 addition of Justin Howard on vocals and guitar. In conjunction with numerous guest appearances on their fourth album, the Midwest-reps created new advantages and outlets for musical creativity. That being said, the eleven tracks on Truth & Love found musical equilibrium with a blend of lovey-dovey pop harmonies and slow-tempo skankers.

The songs on Truth & Love vary across many dimensions. Contemporary ska and reggae drum progressions were countered with songs like ”Lovely”, in which Joel Castillo flows over a mellow and awfully famous one-drop rhythm. A hearty jazzy saxophone solo promoted the peaceful ambience even further as the song closed out. 77 Jefferson also wrote a wholly-acoustic song, the title track ”Truth & Love”. Castillo’s voice goes hand-in-hand with the vibes these mellowed-out tracks create. ”Compare To Nothing” also creates the perfect niche for Castillo’s smoother, unedged voice.

With more invigorating drum and skanking progressions, these songs seem to be more structured and urgent. Newly added singer Justin Howard opened ”Cool It Down” with a rejuvenating vocal approach. After hearing his upbeat opening verse, I liked the addition. However it seems like his talents were underutilized. Howard’s hip-hop edge was perfect for upbeat songs like ”The Sound”, one of my favorites. Along with High Tide’s Eddie Blunt, 77 Jefferson delivered on the most vocally-driven harmony of the album.

In terms of their musical development, I was sad to see the relinquishing of the dub personality 77 Jefferson once had as a forte. Past albums have featured a number of electronic beats and a plethora of dub-like effects. However, one can’t help but appreciate their focus on a more organic resonance.

”On The Run” features Dan Kelly, lead-singer for Fortunate Youth. The two duel over their dedication to music, and Kelly kills his solo verse in ordinary fashion. Castillo sings, “even though I’m on the run, trying to track me down, I’m gonna keep pushing, pushing my sound” in efforts to describe the music industry in turmoil.

Overall, the various vocal additions and features prove 77 Jefferson’s growing popularity in the growing reggae scene. Truth & Love is a multi-dimensional reggae album portraying love, affection, and dedication through several melodious lenses. The eleven songs are fitted with elements of modern and traditional reggae. 77 Jefferson relied upon two important values in their fourth album, truth and affection; two aspects of human life that should have a global meaning.

Written & Reviewed By: Matt Emodi

[Editors Note: All reviews are reflective of the album in it’s entirety, from start to finish. These reviews are the honest opinion of each writer/reviewer, expressing their feedback as a genuine fan of the music. Each star rating reflects their review of the album, not the band. Music is subjective. Regardless of the review or star rating, we encourage you to listen to the music yourself & form your own opinion. Spread the awareness of all music in its art & contribution]

Check out this acoustic performance of “Call Me Up” in the parking lot of 2012’s Wildfire Festival in Austin TX!