Review: Morgan Heritage – Avrakedabra

Review: Morgan Heritage – Avrakedabra

Morgan Heritage – Avrakedabra
avrakedabra album coverTrack Listing:
1.) Want Some More (feat. Mr. Talkbox)
2.) One Life to Live
3.) One Family (feat. Ziggy Marley & Stephen Marley)
4.) Golden
5.) Tribute to Ruggs (feat. Bunny Ruggs)
6.) Reggae Night (feat. Drezion)
7.) Selah
8.) Ready for Love (feat. R. City)
9.) Pineapple Wine
10.) We Are (feat. Kabaka Pyramid & Dre Island)
11.) Dream Girl
12.) Ride and Roll
13.) Harder Than You Know
14.) Dancing in the Moonlight
15.) Reggae Night (feat. Chubb Rock, Stylo G, Timaya, Bunji Garlin, Stonebwoy, Drezion & Jaheil) [Global Remix]

The Pier Album Rating:

Release Date: May 19th, 2017
Record Label: Cool To Be Conscious Music Group
Official Website: Morgan Heritage Website

Artist Background:
Morgan Heritage, often referred to as The Royal Family of Reggae, is a 5-piece Grammy Award winning group formed by the children of famed-Jamaican reggae artist Denroy Morgan. Strictly Roots (2015), the band’s 10th studio album, released independently on their CTBC Music Group label, notched Morgan Heritage a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album. The band has performed with unrivaled energy on stage and consistently churned out top reggae albums for more than two decades, earning themselves a global fan-base along the way.

Album Review:
Avrakedabra, Morgan Heritage’s follow up to Strictly Roots, continues their trend of blending R&B, hip-hop, and dub-step, with their classic recipe of pop roots reggae. Once again, Morgan Heritage’s latest album features a wide range of sounds and a long list of collaborations. Avrakedabra leans heavily on pop hooks and song structures, but powerful roots riddims keep it rockin’ throughout.

This latest slate of music from Morgan Heritage is chock-full of songs with radio potential. Whether you view that as a good or bad thing depends on your appetite for popular music, but there are several undeniably catchy songs on Avrakedabra. A few tracks, such as “One Life to Live” and “Dream Girl,” stray a bit too far on the pop spectrum. However, Morgan Heritage thrives on songs like “Want Some More,” where they combine Peter “Peetah” Morgan’s smooth vocals, a classic roots reggae rhythm, and some understated background vocals from Mr. Talkbox.

The Morgans meet the Marleys on a song fittingly titled “One Family.” The track begins with a simple chord progression on an acoustic guitar, which leads to the low octave piano riff that continues throughout. Peetah Morgan, Ziggy Marley, and Stephen Marley play off each others verses wonderfully, creating one of the album’s top songs. “One Family” is contrasted well by “We Are,” a song about the youth and the future. Jamaica’s next in line, Kabaka Pyramid and Dre Island, deliver killer verses over a quick-paced, EDM-style beat.

Morgan Heritage’s musical versatility is on full display on the tracks “Golden” and “Pineapple Wine.” “Golden” is a straight up R&B love song, with an intro quite reminiscent of T. Pain, while “Pineapple Wine” in many ways resembles a pop-country hit by the likes of Kenny Chesney or Jason Aldean. Much like those sort of country songs, “Pineapple Wine” is very much a guilty pleasure. “Ride and Roll” also fits snuggly into this category.

Despite the pop leanings of Avrakedabra, there are a few roots heavy tracks on the album as well. “Tribute to Ruggs” featuring Bunny Ruggs has a slow, skankin’ rhythm, and contains a terrific exchange between Peetah Morgan and Bunny Ruggs. “Selah,” my favorite track on Avrakedabra, has the lyrical depth and powerful message that most of the other songs fall short of. “Lies and propoganda, they speak of Africa. I trod from Nairobi to Addis Ababa, and find. Find the truth for myself,” sings Peter Morgan. It’s a compelling message about uncovering Africa’s history and beauty in person, and ignoring the media fed stereotypes, stories, and images of the continent.

As a whole, Avrakedabra features a wide variety of song types, typically tied together with reggae, pop, or both. Morgan Heritage wasn’t afraid to embrace pop music on this album, which may turn off a certain demographic, while introducing them to another. The production quality is top-notch, with crisp vocals, loud and precise percussion, and timely sound effects. For what it’s worth, Avrakedabra is almost certain to get another Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album, potentially adding to the veteran reggae family’s growing list of accomplishments.

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: Morgan Heritage – “Selah”