Review: Chris Boomer – “I Am Who I Am”

Review: Chris Boomer – “I Am Who I Am”

Chris Boomer – I Am Who I Am
1.) I Am Who I Am
2.) Leave the Light On
3.) I Know How
4.) Live With What You Got
5.) Bossman
6.) Fiction Philosophy
7.) Can’t Stop Me

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Record Label: Music Is A Weapon/DMV Records

Artist Background:
Born in Guam, Chris Boomer enjoyed local notoriety in the tiny island’s music scene. Jacob Hemphill of SOJA, who were touring the island at the time, met Boomer at a bar gig, and the two immediately sparked an artistic connection. The two then began collaborating on the SOJA track You and Me, which would go on to become one of the most downloaded reggae songs of 2009. I Am Who I Am is Chris Boomer’s debut album as produced by Jacob Hemphill of SOJA.

Album Review:
Chris Boomer’s I Am Who I Am is a fairly remarkable piece of roots reggae music, buried in deep, mid-tempo grooves and soulful hooks with harmonies that range from haunting to uplifting. Produced by Jacob Hemphill of SOJA, the album is sure to appeal to fans of the former as well as more casual fans of roots music. For the most part, its inoffensive and inviting; despite the protests and political conscious sparked every now and again throughout the album, Boomer never appears to be shutting out or turning off, instead simply inviting everyone in as a soapbox preacher with nothing more than truth and love, driving the sermon.

The album kicks off with the title track, I Am Who I Am, co-written by Jacob Hemphill. The track wreaks of SOJA-influence with its counter-culture lyrics, pop-hook chorus, and traditional instrumentation/production. As such, Hemphill’s presence is recognizable throughout the entire album. He contributes a verse to the title-track and much of the production beckons memories of SOJA’s Born In Babylon. The ambience and the soul sparking fire of the album’s cavernous horn section and driving rhythm section will have SOJA fans feeling very much at home. In addition to Hemphill, SOJA members Ryan Berty and Pat O’Shea contribute drums and keys to the majority of the album, while bassist Bobby Lee Jefferson, percussionist Kenny Bognos, Saxophonist Hellman Escorcia and trumpet player Rafael Rodgriguez all make appearances.

However, while SOJA may have been a large part of the background, the spotlight is clearly centered on Boomer. His deep croon provides the focus for nearly every composition along with his simple, yet effective style of song craft, which ranges from tender, bard of scorned love on Leave The Light On and I Know How to unrelenting, Jah troubadour on the albums closing acoustic duo Fiction Philosophy and Can’t Stop Me. With Hemphill’s lush production holding the backdrop for Boomer’s skilled narration, the album makes for a most satisfying listen. And clocking in at about 25 minutes, no track on the album feels overwrought, no verse extends too far, nor any extraneous note packed in for self-indulgence.

My personal favorite track of the album, Bossman, provides a clever contemplation on the current global economic system, questioning who we really live for (ourselves or our superiors), who truly controls our destinies, and whether or not we have the courage to take back the power that’s been ours all along? While Boomer probably wrote this on a more cosmopolitan scale, I like to read this as a message to the future of the music industry, as well. For years, music was controlled by major labels and corporate interests, which put profit above honesty and originality, as did the entire system built around it. However, in the 21st century, the tides have changed. It is no longer labels, but we, the fans, who day by day grow more powerful to find, support, and promote our own music and our own community with no concern for corporate interests. As Boomer declares on the album’s two final tracks, we don’t need any of their fiction philosophy and they can’t stop us, slow us down, or push us around any longer.

Written & Reviewed by: Chris Castro

[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]