Ashanti Selah: Never Leave I Alone 7″ Vinyl Review by Mr Topple for Pauzeradio.com.
Ashanti Selah’s latest release to hit the Pauzeradio shop is, perhaps, one of his strongest in a while – meaning we’re very humbled to be able to bring it to you.
Never Leave I Alone, released via Firmly Rooted, sees Selah transcend the current Reggae cultural tendencies to fuse genres – delivering, instead, a straight yet vibrant and affecting Roots track – albeit with some interesting attention to detail laced across it. The mastering is very strong – not giving prominence to one instrumental line, instead allowing each part of the arrangement to shine through.
Never Leave I Alone works with the mantra ‘less is more’, here. Notable features include the keys. They run a choppy, staccato bubble rhythm in the mid-range of their register, which subtly moves proceedings forwards. Then, an electric organ complements them, also running a heavily-vibrato’d bubble rhythm, of sorts – just slightly more intermittently. The skanking guitar finishes off this trio of choppiness well – running a delicate backwards and forwards almost out of earshot.
However, the bass is not quite the traditional one. It avoids a one drop, or any drop-beat rhythm, altogether – instead opting for a constantly running melodic riff. The tone is delightful – rich, resonant, and not so far down its register that it turns into something driving and Dub-like. Drums complement this well – again avoiding any straighter trappings. Instead, they half do a one drop – with the kick avoiding beat one. However, the snare runs an interesting pattern – hitting double time across multiple beats, as opposed to just the two and four. Meanwhile, hi-hats fill in the spaces in-between. Plus, at points the snare runs some slowed-down military buzz rolls – adding urgency.
The additional instrumentation is well-executed, too. Delicate horns are not over-used, instead coming in and out to provide responses to Selah’s main calls. There’s a gently lilting, additional guitar line, which interjects the track with bending, tropical riffs – almost like a secondary vocal part. A fluttering expertly performed flute is the final, attractive touch in this competent musical backdrop. The backing vocals are well-arranged and executed, too – fitting nicely with the arrangement. Overall, this clean yet intricate musical palette elevates Never Leave I Alone above standard Roots fayre – as does Selah’s vocal.
He’s purposeful and pointed, here – providing a forthright yet still slightly delicate vocal performance across the meandering musical backdrop. He peaks and troughs, dynamically, in his tenor range – making good use of note clipping and extension to accentuate certain points in the lyrics. His vibrato is pleasingly used – homing in on the ends of phrases. There’s something of the Soul, here, too – with Selah delivering some brief yet pleasing glissandos and runs. The chorus is also a stroke of genius – picking up on the music’s ‘less is more’ vibe to provide a very memorable refrain. Lyrically, Selah has created a narrative that oozes praise to Jah – while providing a rousing call to others that if they can find faith, then the world will look and feel a very different place. It’s uplifting and pertinent in these difficult times.
Side B offers a pleasing and well-arranged Dub version, where the flute takes the lead, and the music is stripped-back accordingly.
Overall, Never Leave I Alone is a strong offering from Selah and Firmly Rooted: gorgeously arranged, well executed, with Selah delivering a memorable performance. The perfect addition to anyone’s collection.
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Ashanti Selah Never Leave I Alone Review by Mr Topple / Pauzeradio PR Services (23rd May 2023).