Album Review: Public Property | work to do

Public Property | work to doPublic Property
work to do

Recorded in the famed Anchor Studios in Kingston, Jamaica, Public Property’s new album features some big-name contemporary reggae musicians like Toots Hibbert from Toots and the Maytals–who is playing with the band for their July 2 CD release show in Des Moines’ People’s bar–Ticklah from Dub Side of the Moon,and Elliot Martin, the lead singer from John Brown’s Body. The album also features a solo from Jake Shimabukuro, a man known as the world’s best ukulele player.

There are some well-crafted musings on love on this album, as well as great instrumental play. Work to Do follows in the tradition of great reggae music. It makes people (ahem, me) feel something they wouldn’t.

On the title track, Toots’ vocals blend perfectly with the ringing horns and Bess’ driving ukulele. Laid on top of that, the lyrics describe a world gone crazy, which gives the chorus’ call to stand up more resonance.

The music thrives throughout the record, from Shimabukuro’s solo on “Coming Down the Mountain” to the organ solos used throughout. The musicians compliment the grooves created by Public Property–the band made sure not to waste a single session player. In the end, a distinctive sound is heard. It recalls the past while looking forward.

“Facing Future” typifies a couple of the more conventional tracks. It come too close to the polemical. It’s at these points that the music becomes too routine.

There are some sparkling stories as well. “Marianne” is an amazing tale that leaves the moralizing at home. You can hear the wails of old-time blues singers in “Night Light.”

For me, the record crystallizes on “Drunk at the Wheel.” Bess’ laments stretch over the slow groove and stay in your ear long after the song ends.

Work to Do has something for hardcore fans and curious listeners alike. The band stays true to their reggae roots while pushing the boundaries. This record should make people think while they bob their heads. Always a respectable accomplishment.