Marlon Asher – Illusions
1.) Jah Jah
2.) Man A Rock
3.) Settle Down
4.) See Me Through
6.) Psalm 35
8.) Look Into The Sky
9.) From The Start
10.) So Jay Say
11.) Save Their Soul
12.) Babylon Brutality
13.) No Control
14.) Moving On
17.) I Love YoU Jah Jah (Bonus Track)
The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: January 13th, 2015
Official Website: Marlon Asher Website
Marlon Asher is a Trinidadian reggae singer from Enterprise, Chaguanas. Asher grew up in Enterprise Street, Chaguana where he was a member of the Mount Ararat Spiritual Baptist Church Choir and later converted to Rastafari. Asher was a pioneer of the Trinidadian reggae movement and his first song “Ganja Farmer” sparked controversy in his country despite being a run away hit.
I have to say, at times I wonder the effect of reggae lyrics on the US market and if they were taken in their literal context. There is no denying the extremely religious content in reggae music from Rastafarians vs. the US based reggae that this scene has become accustomed to. Illusions is a record full of belief of good over evil and the perseverance of mankind under the guidance of his imperial majesty. For many artists, this belief is inseparable from the music itself as music is a reflection on life and ones beliefs. This seems to be the case for Marlon Asher and he poetically and skillfully weaves his message and beliefs throughout the duration of Illusions.
Marlon’s voice has a great range and timbre that is truly unique and finds its place equally amongst the stylistic range represented in the release. He can go from soulful highs on the hooks to low and dirty dance-hall toasting on the verses. Illusions is packed with 17 songs and I would be hard pressed to comment on all in this short review so below are some highlights.
In “Settle Down”, the Trinidadian influence peeks through the straight forward steppers rhythm that flirts with carnival/Soca vibes. The beat dances from pretty straight forward to a more syncopated calypso flavored style bordering on dance-hall.
“Shashamani” – This might be my favorite track on the record! This is a sparse, vibe filled track where the bass-line really pushes both the melody and rhythm. “Look into the Sky”, musically, is the first departure on the record with its Hip Hop influenced beat and auto tuned vocals. This is a cool tune showing some experimentation on the album.
“Babylon Brutality” is the stand out track for me on Illusions, with topical lyrics cursing police brutality and its infectious hook – there is a reason this song is being pushed as the single.
“Marijuana” is a really cool song, and what would this release be without a ganja tune? This song takes some tricks from the recently exploded “trap” scene with its pitch shifted snare rolls and sub bass.
Marlon Asher is a great singer, and every song on this album sounds great whether you are bumping on a big system or listening in your ear buds. The production on this album is top notch as well as the vocal performances. There is much to be appreciated on Illusions and with so many layers, it is an album that will continue to resonate with fans after many listens. The only real critique I have on the record are more stylistic elements such as the use of more electronic instruments vs live players which is huge in reggae, but hey musicians are expensive these days.
Written & Reviewed By: Tommy Dubbs
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