British reggae sensation Shanty has recently followed up their debut single “Blackout” with a new 4-song EP titled Leave Me Out, now available on iTunes among elsewhere. The seven-member band out of northwest London is only one year into the making (formed in 2013), yet has already shared a stage with many a big reggae name. Within their initial year, Shanty has also performed at various popular UK festivals such as Boomtown Fair, Glastonbury, Leopallooza – to name a few. With an ever-growing fan base, the Shanty lads thought it was dire time to head to the recording studio, but not just any studio: Sawmills Studio in Cornwall, England – birthplace of several hit records for successful Brit bands like The Verve, Oasis, Supergrass and The Stone Roses.
The EP starts off with trombone and trumpet blaring in the self-titled track “Leave Me Out”. As the intro transgresses into the first and second verses, the echoing ominous keys pave the way for even darker lyrics; even though Shanty’s lead singer Ben Willis croons “everything will be alright”, the subject of the song (a woman) leaves him “out to dry” after enduring being sent “out for slaughter”. The song ultimately describes the illusory motives of a femme fatale, with lying and cheating coming off as second nature. But alas, all his accusations are rebuffed by the fact that misery loves company: the singer, despite his better judgment, keeps coming back for another slice of the proverbial (and dwindling) pie.
…the echoing ominous keys pave the way for even darker lyrics
The second track, “Bohemian Soul”, has carnival-like organ keys, an irregular drum pattern, a jazzy walking bass backbone and ska-style horn riffs. With all these elements coinciding simultaneously, the song is truly “bohemian” in the sense that it is highly unconventional. Yet, it works. The lyrics also have a nice amount of reverb layered over them, emitting a trance-like state on the listener as a traveling gypsy would a curious bystander. All in all, this track is pleasant on the ears although it implies that stoners only smoke to avoid being “haunted by the things that [they] know” – a peculiar insight, if verified.
“Rise Up” is the third song on the EP, beginning with a heavy walking bassline and horn section. Willis enters this track at shouting volume, shocking the listener awake from the happy-go-lucky asylum “Bohemian Soul” had previously placed them in. But that is exactly what the song’s subject is all about: wake up, “are we living a lie?” If a revolution is to spark, we are the ignition.
The final track on the album is titled “One More” – appropriately so, since there’s one left. The premier measures sound like they are being played through a transistor radio, emitting nostalgia for yesteryear within the notes. The static quickly cuts out to full sound and the track progresses with chronic horns and acutely psychedelic lyrics. It’s hard to tell if this song is about addiction or acquittal; also indiscernible is the subject matter of marijuana or marriage. Regardless, a struggle remains until the very end.
One thing is crystal clear after listening to this EP: Shanty did a job well, well done. It’s not entirely common to hear praise about a British reggae band – due to Jamaica and the United States dominating the genre since its origin – but I would wager that Shanty breaks the overseas ice here in America within the next year if their tenacity continues.
Preview and download Leave Me Out on
Leave Me Out track listing
- Leave Me Out
- Bohemian Soul
- One More
- Rise Up
Shanty “Leave Me Out” music video
Released September 22, 2014
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.