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Tubby Love | Love is Alive

album review by John Powell

Tubby Love | Love is Alive

You’d be hard-pressed to find an artist as overtly making music for the right reasons as Tubby Love. “Passionate” is a word that only hints at the fire that is Tubby, and while The Real Thing EP was fun and well-made, Love is Alive is a work of art.

First off, Tubby pulls together some of reggae’s best, (Spiritual Rez, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, Dub Apocalypse, Thunder Body, Passafire), and other northeast dynamos, (Emily Elbert, Eric Robertson, Dopapod). These seven tracks really add up to something. Each sound different because each time Tubby’s backed by another selection of musicians.

While the album title comes off a bit hammy, that’s where it stops. Certainly, Tubby sings about love, light, happiness, faces political bandits, and worries for our future, and some of it is happily tuned and other parts are darker. Still, this album is fairly inspired. Because he brought in so many singers and players, Tubby’s already made his message of working together clear. Then he takes a step further and makes comprehensive reggae songs. Score.

On “The Awakening”, Spiritual Rez provides back-up with startling horns, moments of metal guitar porridge, and Tubby rapping. It doesn’t sound like a long-haired hippie dude. It also doesn’t sound contrived. It’s just Tubby’s way. “Now it seems that the green that used to be all around/ is nowhere to be found/ it’s killing me/ Can’t you see/ that we’re killing the planet?/ There’s no stopping the damage.” In any other hands, this would be floppy lyricism. It takes fire like Tubby to make it work. Spiritual Rez whips it all together, including a sick synth solo. The song builds and builds and connects. “We’ve got to be working towards a greater tomorrow,” Tubby adds with sincere strain.

Tubby’s a Boston man, so teaming up with Dub Apocalypse is befitting. On “Get Up and Move Your Body” he comes off like Michael Franti, spittin’ tight rhymes that are both playful and alert. “Maybe do some yoga/ give the sun a salutation,” he sings among a hundred other images tossed at us in front of Dub A’s funky roots groove. The song is addictive. “It’s all about the journey,” Tubby adds as you sing along with him. “Not the destination.”

This seems to be Love is Alive’s connecting element. The key track is “Love Yourself”, backed by Thunder Body. A slow, meditative song, it is heartwarming and empowering. “Everybody’s always searching for another person to belong to,” Tubby begs. “Don’t wait for someone else/ You’ve got to love yourself.”

With Passafire behind “The Universe”, there’s undoubtedly surges of energy and times of slender melody. Not so much reggae as reggae-enriched, “I can’t find the words/ to tell you how I feel/ about the universe,” goes the chorus. “There’s got to be a reason for me breathing.”

Whatever the reason, Tubby, we’re glad you’re inhaling. p>Bottom line: Tubby’s long-awaited album is full of guest stars and is to date, a highlight of the summer.



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