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The Green | Hawai'i '13

album review by John Powell

The Green | Hawai'i '13

From the start, The Green was recognized as one of a quality reggae group quickly climbing in popularity. Their self-titled debut had something just so incredibly honest about it, and even though the boys hang onto clichés a lot, and even though the instrumentation never really broke new ground, the album was solid. Ways & Means showed significant improvement. The Green started branching out beyond love songs, thinking more like roots reggae writers than contemporary soul and hip hop artists taking on reggae.

Hawai’I ‘13 is their best album to date. It’s their most inspired work, most varied, and most worldly. Yes, love songs dominate this record, but now The Green has matured, sounding more like Gregory Isaacs than ever before. Gregory rode clichés in love songs like a healthy wave, although he did at times leave behind his swagger to attack more political issues. The Green are the same, and even their love songs are less “hold me, baby,” and more thought-provoking.

The album has a clearer message too. The Green promotes their Hawaiian heritage often, citing troubles of the state, relating to the old ways, etc., etc; though their songs hardly touched the subject. Hawai’I ‘13 is a wide step in that direction, and thus, is their most self-sounding record.

“Even Before” sounds like Michael Jackson meets Steel Pulse, rippling with heavy bass. The harmonies slay! The whole album excels at tasty vocal work. “Even before the valleys were carved out by the seas,” it goes, “I’ve got this certain strength of mine/ confidence and righteousness.” The song trembles with richness. The production on this album is the best to date, as well. It’s full-bodied and rather quiet. It does drag the vocals in a bit, so lyrics don’t step out so well, but that’s it.

A key track is “Good One”, a frolicking ditty with a soupy horn line, synthy bass, and excellent instrumental breakdowns. “It must have been a good time,” goes the chorus. “I hope I didn’t get too crazy.” Less a direct love song and more about living it up and losing all your money because of it- the song is light, airy, and worth bumping at a party.

Following is another key track, “Something About It”, which builds into an anthem. Featuring two distinct melody and vocal parts, the song has momentum, too. “I stay relaxed/ I play it cool/ I made mistakes/ I know the rules/ I am a country/ you are the rain.” Great. Some of the best lyrics that have come out of The Green.

There are more noteworthy songs than not. “Good Vibe Killah” stampedes, “Chocolates and Roses” should not be as good as it is, “Striking up a Love” is one for the ages, “Take Me On” is like a pastry wrapped up in a song, and “Always & Forever” is like Third World for the modern times.

If you liked The Green before, Hawai’I ‘13 will put you over the edge, and if you were hesitant, Hawai’I ‘13 might change your mind. I look forward to this album becoming a timeless reminder, and I can’t wait to see The Green continue to grow.

Bottom line: The best album yet by Hawaii’s reggae rockers.


 

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