Ways And Means (Easy Star Records ES 1026, 2011)
I was plenty impressed by last year’s self-titled debut from The Green, a young Hawaiian outfit that nailed the nuances of roots and pop reggae with strong songwriting, solid riddims and rich singing marking them as one of the very best reggae acts to represent the 50th state. (I believe I mistakenly referred to them as The Green Band when their first one came out, for which I apologize.)
It’s good to see and hear them back with a follow-up so soon, this time on the noted independent reggae label Easy Star. They haven’t dropped so much as a notch in quality; in fact, Ways & Means is better than its predecessor. The music is more confident, and as the titles and lyrics of such songs as “Keep On,” “Gotta Be” and “That’s The Way” show, The Green know their strengths and play to them. Such strengths include both love songs and consciousness, some comfortable mixing of pop structure hooks with reggae beats and keeping it real so far as using all-real instruments goes. They’re pretty free and easy with their arrangements, too.
Listen to how “Decisions” ditches the beat and goes ballad at the end or the tightness with which the title track jumps from one drop to near-ska and makes room for guitar and keyboard solos in the process. Respect is due to the additional musicians who augment the four Greens and to Jacob Hemphill of SOJA, who roughs up the smoothness of “Come In” with his guest vocals.
The grass is getting greener for The Green, and spending your green on this sweet release is advised.