The Ambassador –New Roots
Review by Michael Cotton
With a title like New Roots the mind conjured up imagines of a new approach to the roots-reggae genre, and this is what the Ambassador has achieved.
The Ambassador is Stephen Gabriel Lewis, ex-lead singer of the Seed, and he has created, in New Roots, an album of chilled out roots reggae with some modern flourishes and twists.
The influence of Motown, R&B and jazz is evident throughout the album - the Ambassador has created an eclectic album, all the while sticking to a roots principle.
The track My World opens with the sound of the ocean rolling in and the gentle Spanish style picking of the guitar. You can close your eyes and picture the scene, the Ambassador, guitar in hand, chilling on the deck looking out to the sea as the sun goes down.
Lyrically the song is your usual tale of boy meets girls, boy loves girl, girl leaves boy, boy is heartbroken, boy drinks (ok I made that part up), boy mans up, and eventually boy grows stronger as a result of said girl leaving. The Ambassador takes the old-age tale of romantic woe and makes it work.
The album is a mix of the gentle, chilled out reggae and more up tempo beats. The lower paced tunes remind me of a description for Jack Johnson’s music, barbecue rock. The cap, I think, fits the Ambassador to a certain extent.
Yet the Ambassador if more than just that, New Roots mixes the pace with the clever but subtle use of the brass section which takes the music closer to jazz than it does to reggae.
For this credit has to go the Ambassador’s backing band and in particular Bob Bartosik and Nathan Mills (sax and trumpet) who excel on the album, with opening track One and closing song When the Party Starts highlights of their range and skill.
The album has been playing non-stop for nearly three hours now and there are still elements to it I am just discovering.
The Ambassador has produced an album which marks it out from the ever-growing reggae-rock scene, an album which this reviewer will play for a while yet.
For fans of: Mishka, Stick Figure, Trevor Hall
Download a sampler album from The Ambassador on MusicBailout here.