Over the course of this past year and a half, where things have been exceptionally insane, one core thought kept coming back into focus for me — just be grateful. Be grateful for everything you have in your life. Your friends, your family, your career, your dreams, your ambitions… be grateful for all of it, because it doesn’t always last and it can be taken away in an instant. It’s so easy to get lost in the bullshit of day-to-day life that you can forget to simply trust in the universe. Trust that it will provide everything you need to embrace each individual day like it could be your last. It takes a world of faith and a commitment to the unknown like no other, a commitment that is ever-present throughout the entirety of Ease & Grace, the newest full length album by California-based reggae leaders, Iya Terra.
While embracing the notoriety and clout that comes with getting to your band’s fourth full-length album, lead singer Nate Feinstein still has to take a second sometimes to step back, check himself and recognize what it is exactly he gets to call his day job. “It’s very easy to take things for granted,” claims Feinstein. “Just going with the flow at certain points, but there can be these little snaps throughout the day that bring you back and make you go, ‘Holy shit, never mind, I am actually doing what I’ve always wanted to do for a living’ and that’s awesome.”
Recalling his mom and the struggles of growing up poor in the Las Vegas heat (primarily on the beautifully-done, reminiscent track titled “Sometimes”), Nate has continued to push the message his mother played a huge part in instilling in him at a young age — the concept of gratitude. Being an ever-present theme throughout all of Iya Terra’s music, Ease & Grace most definitely does not fall from that path.
Gratitude, self growth and nostalgia echo vehemently through the halls of this album, as well as an overall encouragement to continue to question everything and think for yourself, all playing a major role in the meticulous and engaging sound of this masterpiece of an album.
The aggregate of Ease & Grace was recorded by the man himself, E.N Young, bordering the Pacific Ocean at Imperial Sound. When asked about getting back into the studio, Nate responded, “This one is special in the sense that we haven’t gone into a studio and made an entire album front-to-back since the EP and Full Circle. With Sacred Sound and Coming to Light, that was about the time we all started learning to record and make music ourselves in our own respective studios, which caused those two albums to take a little bit of a different path.”
Using mostly artificial drum sounds for the last two releases, Ease & Grace was in desperate need of a human element mixed in. Enter, Tanner Arebalo. Joining the band in 2018 on the heels of the Coming to Light release, Tanner was just the missing link needed to set this band off on a journey to Alpha Centauri. “We really wanted to let him shine and so that was a huge goal of mine,” states Feinstein. “Whatever we did for the next album, it needed to have Tanner as human as possible just doing his thing, so we made it a point to actually get in the studio together and E.N was the obvious choice.” That choice couldn’t have worked out better. Having tracked the album live in studio, using most of the first takes attempted as the final take for the song, Tanner’s precise and skilled drumming, mixed with the rest of Iya Terra’s energy and E.N’s musical and cultural influence, has produced a drum sound that is desperately needed in the reggae world and is unlike anything I have heard in a long time. He is definitely the star of the show for this album. The man has been putting in work and it clearly shows.
“The way his sound meshed with ours, I couldn’t imagine a better drummer.”
Before we wrap things up, I have to talk about a couple more of these songs for a minute… songs that can’t go unnoticed. The main two I feel driven to talk about are “Your Wars” and “Mind Control”. Both provide the listener with a heavy, powerful message of individual opinion: one expressing a despise for the constant foreign wars we have engaged in as a country; the other denouncing the constant domestic wars at home, in the form of overconsumption of false media, leading people along, not allowing them to fully consider their own thoughts. Add in some killer guitar riffs and these two could easily be considered the top two tracks of the album. Not only do both songs crush it musically, the lyrics that go along with them hit home on so many levels for those who share even the slightest bit of experiences or viewpoints as this band.
Embracing the mindset of ‘think for yourself’ and ‘question everything’, Iya Terra has only further cemented themselves as reggae genre mainstays. Oh, also, can I mention the features on this album? I mean, Trevor Hall, Tribal Seeds, Mike Love, Bobby Lee (of SOJA), Steel Pulse, Stick Figure, Alborosie… are you kidding me? The whole rundown of Ease & Grace is simply spectacular and shows off just how tight the bond between these brothers has become. Iya Terra is set to hit the road soon with 311 and Iration, so don’t miss out! Meanwhile, Ease & Grace is available everywhere now.
Purchase or stream ‘Ease & Grace’ album:
- Ease & Grace
- Your Wars
- Wiser Now
- Price You’ll Pay, feat. Tribal Seeds
- Get What You Give
- Mind Control
- We All Walk Our Own Roads, feat. Trevor Hall
- Gone Away
- All Life, feat. Mike Love
- Outer Space, feat. Stick Figure
- Forwards Bound, feat. Steel Pulse
- Take Control, feat. Alborosie & Bobby Lee
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.