Review: Strictly Roots by Morgan Heritage


morgan heritageLizzy Brookes reviews the newest album by Morgan Heritage, Strictly Roots.

Morgan Heritage, a band formed by five siblings in the 90′s, now celebrate two decades of reggae music with their tenth release, Strictly Roots.

After establishing themselves as ‘the Royal Family of Reggae’, and the premiere live group to see on the reggae circuit, the Heritage surely had their powerful reputation laid out in front of them prior to this release.

The album is a result of collaborations with many greats, including guest musicians, vocalists and a heavy mixed bag of co-producers such as Don Chandler, Radio 1′s Seani B, multiple Grammy nominee Jason “J-Vibe” Farmer, Shane C. Brown, and French reggae/dancehall duo Bost & Bim.

Spiced up here and there with guest vocalists, such as the pop/dancehall phenomenon Shaggy, American vocalist J Boog, reggae sensation Chronixx, members of Rebelution and pop reggae band SOJA, it also features a third generation member of legend Bob Marley’s family tree, as well as another relation of the Morgans (as if five extremely talented family members just wasn’t enough for one album!)

Morgan Heritage feel this album is particularly significant. It represents their first album released on their own label, CTBC Music Group (Cool To Be Conscious). Their previous label, VP Records, had been their label for years, and although the group were grateful for this, they felt it was time to approach the release of their music differently.

The strongest tracks to me were track #9: ‘We are Warriors’ and the title track, which is also the first on the album. They both manage to keep a good, bouncy reggae feel, which makes for a great head-bobbing listening experience. There is certainly a mixture of lots of different styles throughout the album, which keeps it varied, but perhaps not what die-hard fans of the Heritage would be looking for. I felt that too many tracks on this album had lost their traditional reggae sound and perhaps M.H were aiming at a more mainstreamed audience this time. This makes sense when considering some of the chosen artists/co-producers; although most have reggae connections, many also have their fingers in more commercial and mainstream ‘pies’ .

Other tracks worth a mention include the beautiful ‘Rise and Fall’ – track #4 – with its smooth rhythm, lovely melody and encouraging lyrical message. In addition, if you’d agree that reggae and dub-step make for perfect holy matrimony, give track #3 ‘Light it Up’ a listen.

Speaking about the album, Mojo Morgan says: “We feel as if we’ve covered the full spectrum of Jamaican music and how it has influenced today’s global music industry. The root of these influences you hear come from Jamaica. Hence the title Strictly Roots.”

Like its predecessor, Here Come The Kings, Strictly Roots incorporates into its reggae some R&B, a pinch of dancehall and types of pop and roots. Morgan Heritage are undoubtedly on a mission to win over new fans, which will be easily accomplished with Strictly Roots, especially as it has already reached #1 in the US iTunes Reggae charts, and their accompanying tours will surely bring them success and lots of fun along the way.

Strictly Roots is available to buy in the UK on 15th June, 2015.

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