An influential force in reggae, ska and dub music, both onstage and in-studio, Victor Rice has maintained a career that has made him a respected figure around the world. Raised in Huntington, New York and now calling São Paulo his home, Rice has been a highly-regarded contributor to legendary bands, such as The Slackers, Easy Star All-Stars, Bixiga 70 and The Skatalites. If that isn’t impressive enough, Rice also received top recognition for his mixing and engineering skills, helping him bring home two Latin GRAMMYs in 2015 and 2016.
Rice’s new album Drink is a fashionable samba and rocksteady hybrid, expertly emulating Brazilian-style music with elements of reggae and ska to form a unique, upbeat sound. Drink doesn’t break from the classic ska formula, which is what makes the album so compelling and sets it apart from competition, with the outfit embracing horn solos and soulful melodies. As far as the album title ‘Drink‘, Rice explains, “Most of these songs were written during a difficult period in my life and there was a lot of drinking involved, so they were made under the influence of red wine. Once the sequence of songs were finished, it felt like a story arc — from the first glass to the last; fun, manic, introspective, lamentable and a feeling of hopefulness at the end of it all.”
“Most of these songs were written during a difficult period in my life…”
The album doesn’t always stick strictly to ska, but remains in the vicinity. Rice also explores ska’s extended family rocksteady, reggae and dub, with songs like “Simão” slowing things down to a less danceable pace. But, despite the slight style juggling, the emphasis remains mostly on just producing good music — pure, simple, rhythmic and heartwarming.
Drink is an extremely listenable and versatile album. It’s fun, energetic and catchy. The album is sure to leave listeners feeling hopeful and optimistic in such a time of upheaval and confusion! One thing is certain: Victor Rice will be on repeat this summer, no matter the political climate.
Purchase or stream ‘Drink’ album:
- La Mura
- The Demander
- This Is Fine
- Because I Can
- Time to Go
Victor Rice “Simão” single:
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.