Roots of Creation – Livin Free
1.) Get Ready (Ras MG remix)
2.) Different (feat. Rubblebucket horns)
3.) 3x a Lady (Yeti Beats remix)
4.) Oh Lord
6.) Struggle (Ras MG remix)
7.) Rubber Bullets
8.) I’ll Be There
9.) Punk RoC
11.) Policy (feat. Mighty Mystic & Rubblebucket horns)
12.) Row Jimmy
13.) Stay With Me
15.) A Time Will Come (feat. Pato Banton)
16.) Struggle (feat. Melvin Seals & Ras MG)
17.) Rubber Bullets [clean]
18.) Policy (feat. Mighty Mystic & Rubblebucket horns) [clean]
The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: April 22nd, 2016
Record Label: Bomb Shelter Records
Official Website: Roots of Creation Website
Roots of Creation is a New Hampshire-based reggae-jam hybrid known for their electric live performances. The band consists of original members Brett Wilson (lead vocals/guitar), Tal Pearson (keyboards/vocals), and Mike Chadinha (drums), as well as a rotating cast of musicians for their live shows. Named after the Sublime song “Roots of Creation,” the band formed at Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire. Since then, they’ve released a number of studio and live albums. RoC has become a festival favorite and one of the Northeast’s most exciting and promising acts.
Roots of Creation has been tearing up the live circuit for years, but Livin Free is the New Hampshire-based band’s first studio album in about a decade. Just as likely to mix in a Phish tease as they are to cover a Bob Marley song, RoC draws influence from a wide range of artists and genre. Without question, inspiration from reggae and jam icons like Sublime and the Grateful Dead are prevalent throughout Livin Free.
Livin Free is heavy on the reggae side, but the band’s ability to jam out shines through as well. It’s an album with a lot of texture to the music; There is an abundance of crunchy guitar riffs, thumping bass lines, pronounced horns, and catchy vocal hooks. Roots of Creation also fit together an eclectic group of collaborators for the album, including Ras MG, Pato Banton, Mighty Mystic, Melvin Seals, the horn section from Rubblebucket, and Yeti Beats.
Many of the songs on the new album are staples in RoC’s live sets that deserved to be properly recorded in the studio. For me, Livin Free really kicks in with their 3rd track “3x A Lady.” See if you can listen to this one without getting the refrain stuck in your head. The same applies to “Oh Lord,” a sexually charged tune that is already a fan favorite during RoC’s live shows. The end of the songs features a quick, but meandering synthesizer breakdown that transitions into a nasty trombone solo, before jumping back into the hook one last time.
Other strong tracks on Livin Free include “Punk RoC” and “Stay With Me.” The former is an upbeat, instrumental crowd mover sure to induce some moshing, while the latter is a classic reggae rock track that closes out with a fuzzy, screaming guitar solo.
Anyone into the jam band scene will enjoy the end of Livin Free. RoC absolutely nails a cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Row Jimmy.” The track immediately grabs your attention with an outstanding intro of blaring horns. It’s easily one of the best reggae versions of a Dead song out there (behind Sublime’s version of “Scarlet Begonias”, but definitely above Slightly Stoopid’s take on “I Know You Rider”). Melvin Seals, best known for his work with the Jerry Garcia Band, also adds some soulful backing with the organs on “Struggle (skankin’ mix).” It’s not the first time the band has shown an affinity for mixing in some Grateful Dead. Listen closely to the intro of “3x A Lady” on their last live album and you’ll hear Bob Weir’s “China Cat Sunflower” guitar lick. Hopefully Roots of Creation continues their trend of paying homage to the Dead.
Livin Free is filled with hit songs, but there were a few songs that fell short. “Different,” “Rubber Bullets,” and “Searchin’” each sound like generic reggae songs that we’ve heard done before. All the more noticeable when RoC has become known for providing a unique flare to their original songs, and those that they cover. Also, RoC never really goes fully into an extended jam on any of the songs on Livin Free. Obviously, only so much music can fit onto a CD, but it would have improved the album if RoC had left off a handful of the lesser songs, and included a lengthy jam or two. Fans will have to catch the band live to experience that in full.
All in all, Livin Free is a very worthy album. Aside from the handful of elementary reggae songs, Livin Free successfully hits from a number of different angles. The length of Livin Free makes it an album that takes a while to completely digest, but after a few listens all the musical elements begin to unfold. The New England band’s latest release feels like the sound of a band on the cusp of a breakout. The question is whether that’s among reggae or jam fans…perhaps both.
Written & Reviewed By: Brian Winters
[Editors Note: All reviews are reflective of the album in it’s entirety, from start to finish. These reviews are the honest opinion of each writer/reviewer expressing their feedback as a genuine fan of the music. Each star rating reflects their review of the album, NOT the band. Music is subjective. Regardless of the review or star rating, we encourage you to listen to the music yourself & form your own opinion. Spread the awareness of all music in its art & contribution]