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Highest Intention

Universal Light

Review by Gary Hill

I am a big fan of reggae music. So, I'm kind of a natural to become a fan of something like this. It doesn't hurt that the music is so good. The sound here has a lot of faithful reggae texture to it, but there are things like jazz and space rock added into the mix a lot of the time. There is only one song here that doesn't work all that well for me. The rest of it is just so strong.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Morning Light (Feat. Karim Israel)
Keyboards bring this into being. The jump out into some killer reggae gradually as the other instruments join. This has such a cool groove. The horns lend a lot of magic, but the whole piece just works so well. The cut gets into rather soaring, jazzy zones in the instrumental section mid-track. There are some hints of retro funk at times, too.
Fat One
A song about burning a "fat one," this is killer reggae. There are some great musical edges on this thing. It's a lot of fun, too. Then again, I just generally find reggae to be fun. I dig the percussion on this. The instrumental break almost hints at space rock.
Ocean
There is plenty of jazz in the mix here. Don't get me wrong, this is full on reggae, but the horns and other elements fuse a healthy helping of jazz into it. This is more mainstream pop rock than a lot of the other material here, too.
Vibes
I love the echoey kind of trippy guitar solo on this tune. The number is much more of a pure reggae thing. It's a fun groove.
Riverside
Starting with echoey vocals, this shifts out from there to another classy reggae jam. The keyboards lend something cool to the mix. This is catchy and fun with a bit of jazz and some definite trippy grooves.
Dive in (Feat. Lindsay Stubblefield)
I dig the bouncy vibe of this number. It has some definite old-school soul and folk built into it. The female vocals are a nice touch. This has more of a pop feeling to it in some ways, but the horn solo later in the track brings some definite jazz.
Escape
Jazz and pop rock are the real driving elements here. Sure, this has plenty of reggae built into it, too, but the cut has a lot different angle to the main features. The rhythm section break-down mid-track turns a corner when the horn rises up to solo over the top of it.
Sky
There is a trippy, soaring, almost spacey element to this cut. It seems to combine space rock and reggae in some ways.
Bingi
The sounds of nature are on hand at the start of this cut. Mellow world music and reggae seem to combine. This remains sparse and sort of stripped back as it works forward. It's a fairly short instrumental that serves as a kind of interlude.
Universal Light
A cool reggae groove is at the heart of this thing. This is more of a pure reggae thing, really. It has a great rhythmic element and some solid melodic hooks. There is some country guitar later in this number, lending something very different.
Hold Your Own Love
Another classy groove is at the heart of this number. The horns bring a lot of drama. The horn and guitar showcase later in the track is so cool and unusual.
Reggae Paradise
I like this groove, but some of the vocals are over-processed for my tastes. It has a remix kind of quality, and that puts me off of it just a bit. The guitar solo is tasty, though.
Time So Slow
An accessible reggae meets space kind of groove is on hand for the closing cut of the disc. I dig the guitar fills on this quite a bit. The organ lends something cool on the outro, too.
 
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