Through The Roots – Arrival – Album Review by Derrick Harbaugh

It had been six years for Through The Roots fans like myself excitedly anticipating another full-length album. With some singles and an acoustic EP released in between the last album “Take You There” in 2013 and “Arrival” in June 2019 it was enough to hold me over, but I was a bit more excited than usual for this album when the news first dropped of its release. Fast forward six months and I’m sitting here in December reflecting on the amazing releases from Reggae’s biggest artists. Inevitably some albums may get lost in the mix and go unnoticed but for me, that hasn’t been the case with Arrival. It is without a doubt, from beginning to end, a top-five album this year stacking up with artists like Stick Figure, The Movement, Iya Terra, and Collie Buddz.

Through The Roots established their sound on this album and also proved they are unique and willing to be experimental without losing the interest of long-time listeners. The brilliantly written lyrics and perfectly executed vocals of Evan Hawkins keep the listener engaged throughout every track. His ability to paint a picture in your head visually, through his lyrics is something truly enjoyable to listen to. Both Ekona Ravey and Budda Foster contribute thunderous bass play in each track that makes you want to crank the volume up. Corrick Watson’s guitar solos throughout are my favorite part of many of the songs on this album. Brady O’rear shines throughout on the keyboard whether its subtle tones in the background or right in your face solos during the dub-like intros and outros. Setting the pace is Taylor Boatwright on drums, driving this very uptempo, high energy, and positive feeling album. 

Arrival opens up with “Come Home” and starts off with a mellow acoustic intro that leads into a feel-good love song. The uptempo bassline and drum pace gets your head bobbing and sets a positive vibe right from the start. Horns and backup vocals add a perfect touch of melody while the dub outro is the final touch that makes this a great listen.

 “You + Me” ups the tempo into another feel-good love song. The guitar-heavy intro is very enjoyable and continues into a nice solo in the middle of the song. With a very catchy chorus and a clap-along type feel to it, you can easily find this song stuck in your head and would be a fun song to experience live. 

Easily one of my favorite tracks, “Catch A Flight”, starts with a horn intro that grabs your attention immediately. Lyrically it’s a marijuana anthem that lets you know exactly how they feel about it. The bass line hits hard right away and is fun to follow throughout the entire song. This song has so many instrumental layers to it that you can easily discover new sounds almost every time you listen. 

Slowing it down a touch “Lovely And Rich” starts off with a nice melodic intro. This love song is beautifully written and is lyrically one of the most enjoyable to listen to. The female vocals add a melodic touch throughout and the bell chime sounds add a unique, elegant feel to it. A couple of strong yet short guitar solos sprinkled in make this song so enjoyable. 

My personal favorite track is “Start The Clock”. With an awesome bass-heavy dub type intro the pace picks back up. There’s a hip hop/reggae blend feel to this song lyrically from the start that’s perfectly executed. The ambient instrumental breakdown at the end of the song is a perfect example of the talent of Through The Roots. They are a truly unique band that stands out as having their own sound. 

Following that up is “Such A Shame”. This song will make you think! It starts off a bit ominous, but the bass line sucks you in and keeps you listening until the conscious lyrics hit you. Hawkins shows his impressive rapping skills, dishing out solid advice inspiring you to dig within to find yourself. The saxophone solo outro is the perfect outro to this inspiring track. 

Starting off with an awesome riddim “Not This Time” is instrumentally one of my favorites. It’s so fun to follow each individual instrument throughout this song. Lyrically it’s about a toxic relationship that’s got a sad feel to it but doesn’t overpower the vibe overall. 

“Distant Memory” follows as an ambient, EDM type of song talking about moving on from someone. I’m normally not into this type of song but lyrically it’s so relatable and shows another side of the band. It’s executed perfectly and is a mellow, easy listen. 

Going right back into a bass-heavy, upbeat reggae intro is “Tonight”. The tempo keeps building at the beginning of each verse, getting your head bobbing and wondering what’s coming next instrumentally and lyrically. Another great storytelling type song that keeps you engaged while the instruments keep you guessing as they change tempo multiple times and feature some smooth saxophone solos at the end. 

“Nothing Else Matters” has the coolest keyboard work hands down on the album! The background sounds like something out of Super Mario in certain parts. I love how the song almost resets after each chorus and builds up until an unexpected ambient, R&B feeling breakdown at the end. It leaves you wondering if the song changed and switched to a short, beautiful, minute-long track. 

Bringing the album to an end is “Count On Me”. A vocal intro leads into a fast-paced verse with an EDM type feel to it overall. Instrumentally, the highlight is the cool keyboard effects throughout and the solo at the end. This song finishes “Arrival” out in a very upbeat, positive, and inspiring way. The perfect end to a brilliant album that is going to be in my rotation for years to come.

 

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