Album Review: Inna de Yard – The Soul of Jamaica [Chapter Two Records, 10th March 2017]

Reggae was born as an attempt at offering a mass of people tired of pretending to be a rational, liberal, colonial society, a new direction for feeling and human relations and it provided the cement for a new socios (partnership.) Inna de Yard (inside of the yard,) made of reggae purists like Ken Boothe and Cedric Myton from the Congos, aims to further institutionalise the original socio-political intent of reggae with their music, and their newest offering: The Soul of Jamaica does exactly that.

What stands out on The Soul of Jamaica is a character and lightness that does not cater to the ever growing universal demand for shock and thrill. The song “Love is the Key” is a great example, wherein we’re almost listening to traditional music, and not simply entertainment for the sake of entertainment.

“Crime” is the album’s most impressive song, despite its deceptive simplicity. Its lyrics and simple verses are that of a hymn of concern, rooted in the philosophy that crime comes from poverty. “Can’t / solve / crime” especially resonates when the song’s choir chimes in, as if speaking for millions.

It’s pretty hard to disagree with The Soul of Jamaica. “Jah Power, Jah Glory”, for example, is incredibly persuasive; singing to rhythm from keys and percussion to explore the incredible mess in which we currently live, greed-fuelled nations spending their money on war killing others, and the misuse of power and glory in modern times. One needn’t be a follower of Jah to feel it. 

Countless intellectuals have attempted to pin down and explain the societies of the Caribbean, small nations, and especially the societies of the greater Caribbean, Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Haiti, etc, and their volatile politics that are often producers of great poets, and great popular musicians. The Soul of Jamaica is another fine example of the ambition of Caribbean peoples, inhabitants of small spaces with big dreams, in this case preserving the intent of reggae music.