Album Review: Gentleman’s Dub Club – Down to Earth [Easy Star Records; March 2021]

Leeds’ king-sized dub ensemble Gentleman’s Dub Club are in partnership with Easy Star Records on their next album Down to Earth.

The album’s defining characteristics are traditional reggae with contemporary modifications for a brighter listening experience. ‘Castle in the Sky’ serves as one of the standout performances from the album, featuring all the elements that value the music they represent. From breezy synths to steady grooves and a distinctly buoyant pulse, ‘Honey’, heavily features the soulful voice of Hollie Cook merging between the makeup that anchors reggae music. It is modelled on a shared affection for the genre, the foundations by which the album is shaped. But it was their 2020 single ‘Castle in the Sky’ around which the album widely revolves, that oiled the works for many more to come.

We have seen from previous albums, that their reputable dance-floor fillers in both live performance and studio quality, are matched effortlessly by their capacity for perfection, hard work and flawless results. GDC’s formidable live stimulus is one of their UK music festival must-see qualities. Through the mediums of clear articulation and intensity of spirit for the duration of the album, GDC’s production standards are consistently a cut above the last. Down to Earth supports this glorious phenomenon.

Having been in prolonged isolation once or twice, the album was written and recorded using both studio and home-based techniques. Organised rhythm sections and bracing brass parts are plentiful. ‘Smile’, speaks volumes, whilst its title track ‘Down to Earth’ is a reminder of what is valuable and what remains.

Guest vocalist Gardna turns the fleshy sound-sculptures of ‘Night Shift’ into an urban contemporary treasure. In the midst of uncertainty, it has also resulted in a lot of hard grit and a creative re-wiring of their craft in more ways than one. Down to Earth is an existential awakening, by being both introspective and all-embracing. The album comes from a place of trial and error through deep personal encounters, shared knowledge, and unfamiliar perspectives, unravelling more of the magic within.