Veteran music collective Nation Beat will release its latest album The Royal Chase today. The 11-song record is a presentation that will appeal to the group’s longtime fans just as much as those less familiar with the band and its catalog. That is proven through the record’s musical and lyrical content together. It should be noted that while most of the album is composed of fully-instrumental tracks, there are at least two songs that contain lyrics, one being ‘Algunas Canta (ft. Carolina Mama).’ This song will be addressed shortly. Roughly translated it means “Some Sing.” Hey Pocky Way (ft. Moses Patrou)’ is the other of the songs that features lyrics. It will be discussed a little later. ‘Big Chief’ is yet another example of what makes this record impressive. When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s works, that whole makes The Royal Chase a work that deserves a place on any critic’s list of the year’s top new jazz and blues records.
Nation Beat’s new album The Royal Chase is an interesting new addition to this year’s field of new jazz and blues albums. That is proven from the record’s opener to its end in its musical and rare lyrical content. One of the songs that has that rare lyrical content comes late in the album’s run in the form of ‘Algunas Canta (ft. Carolina Mama)’ — or ‘Some Sing ft. Carolina Mama.’ This song shines in part because of its musical arrangement. The arrangement in question is much more reserved throughout than any of ‘Ciranda For Lia’ is reserved in its own right, but the songs stylistic approaches are distinct from one another. The stylistic approach to ‘Ciranda For Lia’ has more of a certain swagger in its presentation. The stylistic approach to ‘Some Sing (ft. Carolina Mama) on the other hand presents a certain innocence in its sound. Carolina Mama’s gentle vocal delivery and the subtlety in the horns couples with the equally subtle percussion to make the song stand out in its own right. That gentile nature of the song’s arrangement is understood more when it is considered with the song’s lyrical content.
The song’s lyrical content is deeply moving. This interpretation is just that of this critic, but the song’s lyrical theme comes across almost as a discussion on people from certain island nations near the U.S. dreaming of escaping the situations on those islands. This is inferred in the song’s lead verse and chorus, which states, “They dream of the land of some dragons/Where the water is dressed in blue/Every rock, fruit and its colors/They will dance, they have danzón soul/Next to the river, the/wind and the mountain/Wake up your restless heart/All together to find his soul/Without thinking, it’s eternal like the sun/Some sing and others cry/For the love to float/Some sing and others cry/For the love to float.” The song’s second verse adds to the interpretation, as it states, “At night they draw melodies/That numb stars in glare/And the forests rest with joy/In a thousand dreams they will find around” The song states in its third verse, “Can you hear his voice/Where will your love fly? One has to wonder if this is a reference to someone asking a child if he/she can hear a father’s voice. Again, this ties in to that seeming message of someone (possibly a child) dreaming of a better life. That would account for the gentile nature in the song’s musical arrangement, too. It would seem to highlight the innocence of a child as he/she dreams of that better life. Again, this is just this critic’s own interpretation and should not be taken as gospel. That aside, that the song’s musical arrangement stands so starkly apart from that of the rest of the album’s arrangements, and that its lyrical content can generate such interpretation proves its importance to the album. In turn, it proves to be just one way in which the album proves worth hearing. It is just one of the songs that shows the album’s strength. ‘Hey Pocky Way (ft. Moses Patrou)’ is another song that shows the album’s strength.
The group’s cover of The Meters’ hit song ‘Hey Pocky Way’ is another of the album’s high points. This intensely funky song will get any listener moving. The song, which comes much earlier in the album’s run, stays largely true to its source material, but does make some changes. The piano line in the original is replaced by Nation Beat with horns. The horns do perform the same melody as the original piano line, though. Whereas a drumset and bass accompanied the piano in the original, Nation Beat’s take adds in some additional percussion, such as what sounds like a cowbell. The sound from the drumset is different, too, but not in a bad way. It has its own sort of punch in its sound, for lack of better wording. The use of the updated percussion and instrumentation gives the classic song a new identity that is just as enjoyable as the original work. What’s more, Moses Patrou’s vocal delivery shines just as much, as he sings about letting music make one feel good. The sound in his voice as he sings is so deep and rich. Add in the positive nature in the lyrics and audiences get even more enjoyment. It should be noted that Nation Beat’s take on the song also stays true to the original in terms of the lyrical content. Adding that note in to the mix and audiences see even more why this song stands out in the overall presentation of The Royal Chase and why in turn, The Royal Chase proves so worth hearing. It is just one more of the ways in which the album proves another success from Nation Beat. The band’s cover of Earl King’s classic tune ‘Big Chief’ is one more way in which the album shines.
‘Big Chief’ was originally composed by Earl King in the early 1960s and was made famous by blues musician/performer Henry Roeland Byrd (a.k.a. Professor Longhair) in 1964. Byrd’s take on the song featured limited lyrical content. Nation Beat’s take foregoes the lyrical content in favor of a full-on instrumental presentation. The piano line in King’s original work is presented here through the use of the saxophone and brass lines. The percussion echoes so well the sound in the rendition made so famous by Byrd. That is a credit to those responsible for the record’s production and mixing as well as to the musicians themselves. The whole of the composition is different in its overall arrangement and instrumentation, but still makes a valid attempt to stay true to its source material as much as possible. The result is a work that because of that attempt to balance tribute and originality, becomes yet another of the album’s strongest points. When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s featured works, the whole proves to be a presentation that will appeal to jazz, blues, and world music fans alike.
Nation Beat’s latest full-length studio recording The Royal Chase is a positive new presentation from the veteran musical collective. That is proven throughout the group’s 41-minute record. Whether it be the unique covers or the originals or both, the record’s musical content does its own part to make the album well worth hearing. The record’s rare lyrical content makes for its own positive impact, too. The songs addressed here go a long way to support the noted statements. The same can be said of the songs not directly addressed here. All things considered, they make The Royal Chase another successful new offering from the group that will widely appeal to its target audiences and new listeners alike. The album is available now. More information on The Royal Chase is available along with all of the group’s latest news at:
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