Album Reviews

Kwame Binea Shakedown

Roots Rock 'N Universal Love

Artist:     Kwame Binea Shakedown

Album:     Roots Rock 'N Universal Love

Label:     7d Media

Release Date:     05.25.2017

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What you see is what you get with Kwame Binea—you can tell he’s a vibrant character, and his debut full-length lives up to its title and then some. The well-traveled singer has a hippie’s peace-and-love attitude without any preachiness, plus the larger-than-life swagger of an R&B star without any ego. Those tattoos alone make it clear that he puts the music first and gives it everything he’s got. His particular strain is a high-energy blend as genuine as it is infectious; in a just world he should already be sharing stages with Trombone Shorty or John Legend.

The Shakedown crew really offers more of a shake-up, full of punchy rocking hooks, a hefty dose of soulful horns and enough funkitude to merit a badass guest spot by Living Colour’s Vernon Reid. The joyful carpe-diem spirit is spelled out straightforwardly enough in a couple spots, primarily the earnest Jimmy Cliff cover that provides the title track, while the group’s booty-shaking bounce still makes it palpable everywhere else.

Just as importantly, the sincerity behind it all is irresistible and contagious. At one point Binea even manages to tackle the timeless theme of post-breakup “I screwed up” regret and still come across deserving of another chance. And that’s one of the relative downers; more often he’s all about reminding us how great it is to be alive.

Roots Rock… is a delightful 40-minute jolt of caffeine for the ears, from a band ready to laugh and inspire in addition to bringing the party. It’s just the kind of lift we can all use more of these days. Hopefully this is only the first of a long and colorful catalogue still to come.

—Geno Thackara

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