New York Reggae artist, Louis Atlas, is announcing today the release of his new album “Coconut Dream.” The album, Louis’s fourth, both fortifies and expands his canon of original Reggae songs.
The record will be featured in a show on March 15th, when Atlas and the All World Band take the stage at DROM in downtown Manhattan (tickets and more info here). Check out two tracks, “The Lunatics” and “The People Must Be Free,” streaming on Soundcloud now.
Across the album’s ten tracks, Atlas conjures a sound that is at once both classic and inventive. A consummate and experienced songwriter, Atlas’s full conviction to his words and melodies is on display here, but perhaps the most impressive thing about
“Coconut Dream” is Atlas’s ability, as both a songwriter and performer, to “read the room.”
He understands that much of the beauty in Reggae lies in the meditative rather than the immediate, and the tracks on the record revel in classic circular reggae jams that superbly complement his songs. And on a more subtle level, Atlas also understands when to break out of the meditative rhythms -- whether with a blazing guitar solo, a melodic coo from a backing vocalist, or even just a short chuckle.
This combination of musical ebb and flow allows the tracks to breathe fluidly through complex emotional beats, as the tunes effortlessly travel from socially conscious political songs (“The Lunatics,” “The People Must Be Free”) and melancholic love songs (“Drifting Further Away From Me”) to steady, playful traditional Reggae tunes (“Coconut Dream”).
Yet even with its most simple and feel-good tracks (“Come Home To Me” and “Spin Your Head Around”), “Coconut Dream” feels inventive and inspired. The album’s rousing closer “The People Must Be Free” shares a lot of DNA with the canon of classic Reggae liberation anthems, but also finds a unique identity in a fuzzy, truly rock-and-roll lead guitar sound that’s more Black Keys than Bob Marley. If you listen closely, you can also hear the experimentation with some glitchy percussive drum accents.
Louis knows that his All World Band is the best in the business. And what you hear is more than just their virtuosity, it’s their comfort and intellectual thoroughness with the genre. “Coconut Dream” is filled with moments of jubilance and character that displays Atlas’s evolution and comfort level as a Reggae musician.
It wasn’t always like this, he recalls: “One day at a rehearsal I was doing a cover song and trying to sound Jamaican. One of the musicians said, ‘You sound like a mouse. Just sing it like yourself.’ That was really good advice because, man, you really can’t fake anything. If you do, it looks and sounds exactly that - fake. I learned right away that the only thing that works for you and the audience is truth.”
And the truth echoes throughout as Louis sells his brand of Reggae so convincingly on “Coconut Dream,” which is a record flavored with a constant joyful undercurrent. Louis is a songwriter and singer of great restraint and range.
He abandons any hint of being self-conscious (witness the tuneful yet cheeky track “I Love My Work”) and remains unabashedly romantic throughout (“Into My Life”). Louis’s passion is contagious, and that passion is infused in the playing on and the production of “Coconut Dream.”
Louis’s passion, truth and belief in the power of Reggae music is on full display on “Coconut Dream.” It is a gift for the ears of every listener.