Reggae has long been about the message of the lyrics as much as a catchy melody. On the new album Lily of Da Valley, Jesse Royal shows that he can give healthy doses of both catchy melodies and thought-provoking lyrics.
In the first song "400 Years", you quickly get a sense for how important the message of the song is to Royal. Sure the melody is enough to get you bouncing, but the lyrics really make you take notice. "Get up and do something. Don't be counterproductive. All the people really want is peace and equality." It's rare that a song can get you moving while you're deep in thought. This song definitely accomplishes that.
"Life Sweet" is one of those songs that will make you smile. Royal sings about waking up in the morning and finding no tea or bread. Despite those things, he declares "hungry, yes, but we're far from weak" and that life is sweet. Furthermore, he says that exuberance begins within. This song would make a great soundtrack for meditation because when you hear these lyrics, you can't help but think about the positive things in your life.
"Stand Firm" is an interesting song. The lyrics are delivered (you might even say rapped) so quickly that it's hard to comprehend all of them. One line that might catch your ear is when he sings, "certain bridges I and I willing to burn. That being said, the melody is bright and you can't help but move when you hear it.
If you're looking to add some reggae to your party playlist, "Rock It Tonight" is definitely a good song to consider. Right from the beginning, it has a relaxed, feel-good vibe. Royal takes you through a party - including a request to the DJ to keep the tunes going so the party doesn't slow down and a request to a certain someone to "save the last dance for me". This is an infectious tune that would go great with a rum drink in your hand.
Royal leans toward the dub style of reggae but also incorporates some hip-hop influence into his music. It's mostly in the cadence of some of the lyrics, but it comes through pretty prominently at times. Another way to put it is that this is an album of traditional reggae with a modern twist. If you're a fan of traditional reggae, this is an album you should add to your collection. Lily of Da Valley (Easy Star Records) was released on October 6 and is available everywhere now.