The soulful voice of Beres Hammond, the “Otis Redding of Reggae,” has captured our full attention since his 1976 Willie Lindo produced debut “Soul Reggae.” Now, with his 26th studio album, One Love, One Life (VP records), nominated for a “Best Reggae Album” Grammy (the second nomination of his remarkable career), Beres provides the ultimate love experience with 20 skillfully crafted songs for music lovers to enjoy. Taking the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Top 10 Reggae Albums chart, and being noted by Rolling Stone as “one of the best albums of a four-decade-long career,” Beres’ latest album proves this artist continues to hone his craft, getting better with time. However will this album receive the Grammy it so richly deserves during today’s ceremony in Los Angeles? Beres faces some tough competition this year. However the final decision rests in the hands of the Grammy Voting Committee and as a member of this Committee, the Recording Academy and expert in music, Rob Kenner breaks down how the process works in Complex Magazine’s “Hate Me Now: What Its Like To Be A Grammy Voter.” In this article he bravely reveals the secrets that make it less likely that such a strong album will be selected. Story Continues After The Jump…
As Rob states, when your “up against household names like Ziggy Marley and Snoop Lion” and with the inherent flaws in the voting process already, the prediction is Beres will not win. With hopeless optimism, lets take a look at this gem of an album which supersedes as an amazing body of work. The double LP contains 10 lover’s rock and 10 conscious tunes. The first song on Disc I, “Can’t Waste No Time” contains signature Beres vocals over a jazzy instrumental that guides the listener as he swerves through traffic, takes short cuts and describes the urgency of getting home to a lover. Unfortunately, Beres did not reach in time and pulls at the listeners’ hearts strings with the advice to let go if there is “No Candle Light” (co-produced with Donovan Germain). Beres wipes the dust off his shoulders and gets back on the dance floor to embrace his fans with the beautiful vocals of Cherine Anderson in a true rub-a-dub style with “In My Arms, ” co-produced by Collin “Bulby” York. Beres the “Lonely Fellow” has “Crazy Dreams” and takes it up a notch lyrically with, “My Life.” “Keep Me Warm” turns up the the temperature with sensual vocals and the incendiary lyrics, “ I’m gonna give you myself, my body, my soul, my whole intention!” “More Time” contains the reflective lyrics, ”They say old friends don’t take long to start a flame all I can say is that its worth another try.” Beres notes this song one as his personal favorites in his 2012 interview with Damien Scott for Boomshots Magazine. Beres pours his soul into “Shouldn’t be” and then celebrates a young love which blossoms over time in “The Song.” Disc II contains the “Conscious 10” that remind you live the life love! The first song “Still Searching” sets the tone with a spirit of gratitude…. “We need to give thanks for everything, nature and all….seen if it weren’t for yesterday I wouldn’t have know today yeah for real you know!” “Don’t You Feel Like Dancing” expresses the joy and creativity in movement. The album’s title track, “One Love, One Life” should be the slogan for 2014! The lyrics speak for themselves. “Can’t Make Blood Out of Stone” warns about the fruitless effort of maintaining a friendship with a person “who conveniently misunderstands “who you wanna be and where you want to go, your purpose in this life. ” Moreover, making changes may lead to the fact that “You Stand Alone” but Beres ensures this as a better option because we are just “Not Made of Steel.”
In the final set of socially conscious songs we transition from individual empowerment to collective strength. “Family,” a song about the foundation of any community , emphasizes that families must stand in unison “like a mountain and love should flow like a fountain.” The song “Truth Will Live On” addresses the past and present day oppression of black people and Beres calls for nationalism amongst black people; ” Until we understand we are gold and diamond they will treat us like we are not no one, stand up for your rights! ” Beres demonstrates exceptional vocal versatility on this song singing both the lead and background vocals, the latter sounding like a trio singing in harmony. “Prime Time,” a satire in the form of a song, makes for one of the most unique songs on the album. In “I Humble Myself, ”Beres lifts his voice in worship and praise with the spiritually soothing vocals of Samantha Strachan (who won the World Championships of Performing Arts in 2003 along with her sister, Ana Strachan, hitting high notes). With references to Isaiah 54 this song leaves listeners in peaceful meditation with the final track. Signature vocals, exceptional lyrics and superb live instrumentation makes this album a solid collector’s item: iTunes
Beres discusses his 26th studio album and how creativity and the fans keep him
See who wins the award for “Best Reggae Album” at the 56th Grammy Awards, Sunday, January 26, 2014 on CBS at 8PM EST/P Grammy Awards
All photographs were taken by Roland Hyde.