Mighty Mystic – The Art of Balance
1.) How I Rock
3.) Something Bout Mary
4.) Red Light Girl
5.) How Many Miles
6.) Fast Car
9.) Solid as the Rock
10.) Boys In Blue
11.) Only Birds
12.) High Grade
13.) Is Not Gold
14.) Only the Strong
The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: March 11th, 2016
Record Label: Roots Musician Records
Official Website: Mighty Mystic Website
Mighty Mystic is a Boston-based reggae artist known for his signature “Hard Roots” style. Born Kevin Holness in Jamaica’s St. Elizabeth parish, Mighty Mystic moved to Boston at a young age and soon began developing his vocal talent. The Art Of Balance follows on the heels of Mystic’s first two albums Wake Up The World (2010) and Concrete World (2014), which featured hits like “Cali Green”, “Concrete World”, and “Riding On The Clouds”. Mighty Mystic is backed by John Felice (guitar), Tyler Last (Bass), Salvador Pineda (drums), and Jens Swetting (keys).
Mighty Mystic has taken his third album, The Art Of Balance, in a relatively new direction from his two previous releases. Mystic sprinkles in his vintage hard roots verses and his signature “Yaow!” war cry throughout, but overall The Art Of Balance highlights his softer side, running mostly at a slow n’ steady tempo. The album, which was produced by Mighty Mystic and his brother Stephen Thunder, is primarily a pure and stripped-down sound from Mighty Mystic and his backing band.
Consistent with the previous two albums is Mighty Mystic’s crisp voice and ranging vocal techniques. However, Mighty Mystic definitely seemed to reach for a more mature sound, suppressing some of the grit exhibited on earlier tracks like “Riding On The Clouds” and “Firetown”, and opting for a more heartfelt tone.
The first two tracks from The Art Of Balance, “How I Rock” and “Rebel”, are actually prime examples of the Mighty Mystic we’ve seen so far. Energetic and lighthearted, yet forceful. “Something Bout Mary” is a fun and fairly catchy song that begins the transition into the heart of the album. “Red Light Girl” and “How Many Miles” prove that Mystic can indeed pull off the sensible slow jam. In the latter, you can really feel Mighty Mystic’s soul protruding from his voice, as guitarist John Felice skillfully fiddles up and down the fret-board, molding each note around the vocals.
“Easy” is a simple track, but it features what are likely Mystic’s best vocals on the entire album. However, by the end of the song the generic reggae guitar chucks become a bit repetitive, stealing focus from the vocals and other instruments. Mighty Mystic unplugs completely for “Solid as the Rock”, and definitely hits the mark. It will be interesting to see if he incorporates more acoustic guitar in his future work.
The last third of The Art Of Balance begins with “Boys In Blue”, Mystic’s stand against one of today’s most pressing issues, police brutality. The second verse pays tribute to a handful of the recent victims to police brutality, beginning, “Laquan McDonald, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Walter Scott, and so many more…” A minute later, the song fades out with Eric Garner’s last words, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.”
Finally, we come to the best track on the album, “High Grade”. This is one of those tunes that puts you in a hazy hypnotic dub induced trance. The keys, bass, and guitar all smoothly combine with Mystic’s vocals for what amounts to The Art Of Balance’s answer to Concrete World’s hit “Cali Green”.
The Art Of Balance is definitely a solid effort from Mighty Mystic and his crew. It was a seemingly conscious attempt to experiment with new sounds and slower tempos. Mystic’s new approach hits the mark definitively on songs like “How Many Miles” and “Easy”, but falls short on others like “Only Birds” and “Is Not Gold.” These two tracks, and a few others never really gained traction with my ears; Perhaps a 15 song album was a stretch. I wish Mighty Mystic and his band had toyed around even more with the cloudy dub sounds delivered on “High Grade” and “Only The Strong.” Also, a few more “Yaows!” from Mighty Mystic wouldn’t hurt. All in all The Art Of Balance is certainly worth a good listen, and going forward it is clear that Mighty Mystic plans to keep us completely off balance, hitting us with either a pair of hard roots verses or one of his passionate slow burners.
Written & Reviewed By: Brian Winters
[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]
Watch: Mighty Mystic – “How I Rock”