A little more than twelve years ago a little band that went by the name of The Movement made its first impact in the reggae community when it released its debut full-length studio recording On Your Feet. The fourteen-song record established the South Carolina-based band as one of the leaders in the next generation of reggae. That is because it broke the mold used by seemingly nearly every other reggae act out there at the time. Fast forward back to today. The band has maintained its place at the forefront of the genre since 2004 with the release of its sixth full-length album Golden. Golden was released Friday, April 8th via Rootfire Cooperative. The album’s twelve total songs are everything that fans have come to expect from the veteran reggae outfit. In many cases, a band doing the same thing for so long would be a death sentence for said act. However that has not been the case for The Movement in this case because its sound, while familiar, doesn’t just repeat the band’s previous work. Instead, the band has taken its familiar sound and used it to craft an album of wholly new tunes that any listener will enjoy.
The Movement’s latest full-length studio recording Golden is a fittingly titled new effort from the veteran reggae act. That is because while the album’s overall sound is familiar to the band’s longtime fans, that familiar sound has not equaled to the same old songs as before. Rather, the band has managed to re-invent itself once again (so to speak) on this, its sixth new album. The end result is an album that is yet again more than just another run-of-the-mill reggae record. It is a reggae record that leads the way within its community. This is evident early on in the album’s title track. The song, which features Elliot Martin, mixes the band’s familiar reggae sound with EDM elements for what is one of the album’s most standout offerings. What’s truly interesting here is the group’s ability to balance both musical elements. Neither one overpowers the other at any point. That balance forms a solid foundation for the song. It is just one part of what makes the song stand out. Its lyrical content makes it stand out just as much. Vocalist Joshua Swain sends some positive vibes through the song’s lyrical content. He sings in the song’s lead verse, “Frost say nothing gold can stay/I guess you can’t measure how much a soul can weigh/And I’ll never let this love unfold and fray/So my heart will stay golden after I’m old and grey/Frost say Eden-ya know it sank to grief/Don’t mean to offend you but it’s not my belief/Wanna scream to the world/There’s only hope and peace/When you have a gold heart and give away the gold leaf.” This message of optimism and is echoed in the song’s second verse, in which Swain sings, “Frost say nature’s first green is gold/But depending on whether the prior scene is told/It’s a cycle/Forever infinity remolds the heavens/Relax and let the dream unfold/And why is it so hard for us to see/I’m thinking we’re all just in a rush to be somebody/But first ya know we must be free/And in time you will say first I must be free.” Swain comes across as saying to listeners that they should have love for others, not for themselves. That is hinted even more in the song’s closing verse in which Swain notes that the fighting among men worldwide will be overcome by that love for one another. That positive vibe is commonplace in reggae. But its wording is original in its own right. And when it is set against the song’s EDM musical arrangement the song stands out even more. It is just one of the album’s most standout compositions. ‘On Top (ft. Leilani Wolf)’ is another prime example of what makes Golden live up to its title.
Golden’s title track shows easily in itself why this new record from The Movement stands out. That is thanks to the combination of its hybrid reggae/EDM sound and the positive message presented in its lyrical content. It is just one of the songs that shows why Golden lives up to its name, though. ‘On Top (ft. Leilani Wolf)’ is another of song that proves the importance of this album among this year’s crop of new reggae albums. Whereas the album’s title track mixed the band’s familiar reggae sound with EDM elements, this song mixes that reggae sound with a hip-hop sound for yet another original composition unlike any presented by the band’s many counterparts. Also as with ‘Golden,’ the song’s musical content is just part of what makes it stand out. Its lyrical content will keep listeners just as engaged. Swain spits rhymes here with the fluidity of a river as he raps, “Pickkin’ up pieces – pardon the prime alliteration/Apparently people notice and perk with participation/But life is a puzzle – Put it together with pride/And you’ll probably find purpose if you put your ego aside.” This harkens right back to the message presented in the album’s title track. And it’s just one verse buried within the song, too. He goes on noting in the song’s final verse “I hate to see my people/Like a flower with the root gone/Drenched like they took a shower with their suit on/Benched – sit or you sleep – Life ain’t a futon/Time to strap ya boots on/Hike a million miles a week to get ya move on/Party like it won’t ever peak/To get ya groove on/Wig out with ya locks/Or be sleek and rock a buffoon/Doesn’t really matter – Just be – And get ya truth on/Dready speak the truth mon.” It’s just this critic’s own interpretation but Swain comes across here as saying that people should be the most that they can be and do the most possible with life. Don’t just be weak and sit around and let things happen. Get out there and make things happen. That could be totally off the mark, again, being that it is just one interpretation. What everyone will agree on here is the depth of these lyrics. That depth, when considered along with the song’s equally enjoyable musical content, shows why the song in whole is yet another of this record’s most notable compositions. Together with the album’s title track, both songs show even more clearly why Golden is indeed golden. They are not the only songs that can be cited in making that argument either. The album’s poppy, guitar-driven closer is one more piece proving why Golden lives up to its name.
‘Golden’ and ‘’On Top (ft. Leilani)’ are both key examples of what makes Golden live up to its title. They are both stark contrasts from one another stylistically speaking. And even while their lyrical messages differ, too, they are still similar in that both present positive messages in said content. While both prove in the end to be key examples of what makes Golden shine (pun fully intended) they are not the only of the album’s songs that can be cited in making that argument. The song’s poppy, guitar-driven closer ‘Wild Time’ is one more example of what makes this record stand out in whole. Musically speaking Swain’s work on guitar and his vocal delivery conjure thoughts of Jack Johnson, and to a lesser degree Ben Harper. Drummer Gary Jackson’s work behind the kit adds even more depth to the song with cymbal crashes in all of the right places and a gentle backbeat. The song’s touching tribute to Swain’s family and friends back home partners with the song’s musical content to make it all the deeper and more emotional. Swain sings in a bittersweet manner, “To all my friends up in Philly/And to my family down in Charleston, too/For all my faults/Please forgive me/Didn’t mean to be so rude/I miss my sister out in Rainbow City/I miss my mom and dad out in Columbia, too/I only pray that you believe me/God only knows my words are true.” This is a deep and moving passage that will leave not a single eye dry in hearing it. The emotion doesn’t let up at all from here as Swain continues on, singing, “My eyes water as I scan the night sky/And I dream of everything that we might do/I fall asleep praying, “please just let me wake up”/I need another day to make it come true/It’s been a wild time loving you.” Again, Swain tugs at listeners’ heart strings here, presenting so much truly heartfelt emotion and wording. And one again, the combination of those moving words and equally moving musical content makes this song stand out just as much as ‘Golden’ and ‘On Top’ if not more. Regardless it can be easily said of this piece that thanks to its combination of deeply moving musical and lyrical content, it is indeed one more piece proving why The Movement’s new album is in fact musical gold.
The Movement might not be one of the biggest names in the musical universe or maybe even the reggae community. But it can be said in hearing the group’s sixth full-length album that it should be. That is because this record does indeed live up to its name. It lives up to its name as it once again mixes the band’s familiar reggae sound with a mix of sounds from other genres within the musical universe for a record that is in whole another original release from the veteran band. The hybrid EDM/reggae sound of the album’s title track, the mix of hip-hop and reggae in ‘On Top’ and the poppy, almost Jack Johnson/Ben Harper style sound of the album’s closer all prove this in their own way. Together with the album’s purer reggae compositions, the album in whole proves to be a record that definitely lives up to its name. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Golden is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:
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