The Ambassador – New Roots
1.) When The Party Starts
2.) Fighting Song
3.) Rise and Shine
6.) Give Thanks
7.) Out With The Old
8.) Beautiful (Interlude)
9.) A Tribute
10.) My World
11.) Change (Got to Have It)
12.) When the Tide Comes
13.) That’s How Strong My Love Is
The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: March 1st, 2011
Record Label: Peacemaker Records, LLC
Since coming to California, former Virginian, Stephen G. Lewis, has had the opportunity to work with some of SoCal finest musicians, including members of Pato Banton’s band The Now Generation, and C-money and the Players Inc. With his backing band, The Chosen Few, The Ambassador released his debut EP The Ambassador Presents… in January of 2009. The Chosen Few is a talented and experienced group of musicians who support Stephen Lewis both in the studio and on stage. With their helping hand, The Ambassador released his first full-length album New Roots on March 1, 2011.
– The Chosen Few are:
o Keys: Adam “Jah Mex” Arredondo
• Known for supporting legendary reggae performers, and also for many SoCal performances with his band “Jah Mex and the Translators”
o Bass: Carlos Marin Jr.
• Has performed with PsydeCar, C-Money and the Player’s Inc., and nationally touring act Mandorico
o Brass: Bob Bartosik and Nathan Mills
• For ten years, they have performed and recorded with many local groups, playing anything from Jazz to Punk Rock and in between.
o Drums: Tony Saenz
• formerly of Mystic Roots, now a member in Pato Banton’s group, The Now Generation
o Producer/Engineer: Andrew Mencher
• has worked with multiple reggae artists including Pato Banton, Messenjah Selah, and the Lambsbread.
It didn’t take long for The Ambassador or Stephen G. Lewis, to figure out the vibes he wanted to share with roots and reggae fanatics everywhere. While a number of musicians incorporate a variety of different styles in an album, the tracks featured on New Roots do not deviate too far from each other in terms of the positivity embedded in Lewis’ lyrics along with the rootsie utilization of The Chosen Few’s talents and Stephen Lewis’ acoustic guitar.
The first time I listened to this album I noticed that it lacked variation musically at some points; both in tempo and the skank. However, you can basically catch all the major characteristics of classic reggae music in this album; the walking bass line, a paradise-inducing skank, an accompanying horn/brass section and deep lyrical meaning. It’s incredible how some of the instruments’ placements change a song. Throughout the song Give Thanks, a track about more often recognizing the simple things in life, the saxophone compliments the already established mellow atmosphere very well. One of my favorite moments musically is framed at the end of the track My World. An “at-ease” solo on the acoustic guitar transitions beautifully into a sax solo to end out the song. Overall, It seems to me like The Ambassador and The Chosen Few weren’t focused on displaying their musical talent as much as getting the message across through the use of analogies, personal reflection, metaphors, and one-line bits of advice.
Personally, I often separate the vocals from the instrumental aspect when listening to music. But in listening to this album, I urge listeners to think of Stephen The Ambassador Lewis’ vocals as both a musical instrument and as a channel of message communication. Without the twisting harmonies created by the voice of Stephen Lewis, the music would be pretty bland. This aspect works out in The Ambassador’s favor, especially since one of the biggest differences between roots/reggae compared against other musical genres is the use of vocals and the important message embedded within the lyrics. As a result of this strong emphasis on the use of harmonious and meaning-filled vocals, New Roots not only allows fans to experience a higher connection with their music, but also provided a chance for Stephen, The Ambassador Lewis to share his message and beliefs through feel-good reggae tunes.
Just Relax, make this time worth living for; sums up much of the lyrical content of the album. I think Lewis could find something positive out of nearly any situation. That line in particular is from When the Tide Comes; one of my favorites on the album. The tide serves as a metaphor for the troubles we experience. Sometimes you must lose your soul, to truly be found, is an example of the several one-lined hooks I found. The Ambassador’s messages are true to the roots of reggae. In many occasions I thought of the historical hooks created by the great inspiration that is Bob Marley himself.
In conclusion, a true roots fan will enjoy this album more than a listener who craves variety. However, there are a number of catchy songs as I mentioned. The single that was released in November, Dreaming is very catchy too. If you need an up lifter or even just a time to chill out, turn on this lyrical masterpiece.
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]