Headlines may be Unified Highway’s sophomore album, yet these are no green musicians! Unified Highway is a dual collaboration consisting of Amp Live (formerly of Zion I) and of Eric Rachmany (frontman of Rebelution). Amp Live has been recording important music for over 20 years; Rachmany and his mates recorded the first Rebelution album back in 2007. Together, Rachmany and Amp Live bring all of their skill and wisdom to this project and shrug off expectations associated with new works by seasoned artists. No one is asking them to produce a certain sound! They get to play, experiment and explore their own sound and we benefit from the discovery.
When reviewing an album, I listen to it over and over again.
I listen with headphones, over car speakers and as loudly as possible from a weak laptop. Some albums need time to grow on you. The first listen is always so casual… I sometimes forget to listen at all! For Headlines, the latest from the two via Easy Star Records, I pressed play with my waterproof speaker and hopped in the shower. When the title track came on, I was struck. The arrangement is tight and sparkling and commanding and I had no choice, but to dance until I had shampoo in my eyes!
Sometimes my friends and I ponder what our walk-out songs would be: the loud thumping jam that announces your presence like a batter stepping up to the plate at a home game or a UFC fighter strutting towards the ring with a raised fist. It changes with my mood, but today, my walk-out song most definitely is the title track “Headlines”. That opening is VIBES.
“Education Motivation” sounds like old-school Zion I with a reggae twist and more of the horns that make me crave listening again and again. “Fierce”, like so much of this album, feels like it is landing in our laps at just the right time to encourage us and fuel our ongoing fight: “The systematic inequality in place // Comes from a history that just can’t be erased // Talk about freedom for all”.
For Aaliyah-loving 90s kids like me, Unified Highway’s cover of “Are You That Somebody” is another unexpected treat. “Two Days” is a light jam that is also danceable and fun. The album includes features from Del The Funky Homosapien, Karim Israel (of Arise Roots), Million Stylez, Reverie, Courtney P and Beebs. All of these artists bring their own style, while maintaining a cohesive sound and message throughout.
‘Headlines’ holds a plea for reason, compassion and acceptance.
And, that message is one of inclusion. Folks familiar with Eric Rachmany’s writing already know to expect lyrics full of heart. Headlines holds a plea for reason, compassion and acceptance. In “Unique”, Rachmany and Reverie preach this message. Although the word ‘unique’ is used 15 times in the song, each use feels more like clarification rather than repetition. Rachmany’s tender voice is pleasantly juxtaposed with Reverie’s sharp, energetic verse.
There has not been much indication from Unified Highway how long this cooperative project will last, but we hope there will be more albums and tours in the future, because this music is beautiful and different! It’s unique. For more information, visit the links below.
Purchase or stream ‘Headlines’ album:
- Head Start Intro
- Two Days
- Higher Than High, feat. Del The Funky Homosapien
- Sun Jam
- The Session, feat. Million Stylez
- Small Talk
- Unique, feat. Reverie
- Education Motivation
- Fierce, feat. Beebs & Courtney P
- The Truth
- Are You That Somebody
Special announcement from Unified Highway:
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.