The Perfect Soundtrack For the Summer of 2021 – Just Add Rum and Sun.
If you’re listening to Reggae great Gramps Morgan’s album Positive Vibrations and you detect a definite modern Country Music sound throughout, your mind is not playing tricks on you.
Morgan spent time in Nashville and grew to love the sounds of pedal steel, dobro, and fiddle, and has incorporated those sounds into the production of this, his third album.
Add that to his naturally Caribbean-infused songs, guest vocals by Shaggy and India.Arie, clear and thorough production by Johnny Reid, and you have quite an interesting batch of songs.
As a member of Morgan Heritage, whose 2016 album Strictly Roots won a Grammy for Best Reggae Album, Gramps played keyboards, sang, and wrote a bunch of songs.
As a songwriter and band leader, this solo album excels with its easy going, tropical beach songs, and clean Nashville studio production. Gramps’s voice shines on these songs, and his lyrics are spot on too. Take the title cut, in which he lays out the recipe for the entire album:
“It make we dance til we can’t dance no more”
“Positive, positive vibration, A tried and true Rasta formulation.”
And if you can’t dance or move to this music then something is wrong deep in your soul.
“If You’re Looking for Me” has a laid back groove all about being, well—laid back.
“Hang a Sign On My Door, It says
“worry don’t live here no more,
Out of reach that’s where I’ll be,
If you’re looking for me.”
“A Woman Like You” is a pedal steel fueled love song, while “Secret to Life” is precious life advice and more of that delicious pedal steel.
“Paradise” features wonderful guest vocals by India.Arie and the addition of Caribbean steel drums to offset the Nashville pedal steel; and a great mix of genre-specific instrumentation to fill out the overall sound.
“Rumnesia” is a playful romp on the excesses of partying, and is that a banjo I hear on the songs “Conkytonk” and “Runaway Bay”?
I can’t recall ever hearing banjo on a Reggae song before, but here it is and it sounds fantastic, and, oddly enough … oh, so natural.
The final track, “All About Love,” is a plea for understanding and helping each other through the tough times.
A “Stand By Me” for a newer generation?
It’s easy to be reminded of Jimmy Buffet’s better material on some of these songs; with their laid back island feel, the Country vibe; but for some reason I keep thinking of 1960’s California surf rock too.
Sun, happiness, love, and a wish for peace?
After the year we’ve all had, this album hits all the right notes at just the right time.
A perfect album for the summer of 2021.
Review by The legendary Roy Peak
Released July 9th 2021
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