If the genesis of that amazing collaboration project happened in an unexpected and tragic way, the producer Martin Nathan deliberately wanted that album brighter than ever. That second and eponymous single perfectly illustrates this. Brain Damage surprises once again, and distills a harmonious sound, swaying, colored with precise but universal influences. Catchy and nevertheless subtle horn arrangements signed by Franck Boyron bring in a touch of Soul and take the track to a new level.
Then what about Big Youth incredible performance? He appears at first like a crooner, himself probably influenced by the masters of the genre. And next he takes our breath away (but when does he catch his own?) with a long improvisation only he holds the secret of, riding the delicate harmonies offered by the producer composer.
A true moment of grace and symbiosis. With one single watchword : « love is the answer », a simple but essential message, rightly once again hammered in the current difficult times.
A story in History
… or how to condense in a sound bite, the incredible and terrible journey, experienced by Martin Nathan and his longtime friend Samuel Clayton Jr, both gone to Jamaica in March 2020, for a collaboration with the legendary Big Youth. The context of a first and unprecedented world lockdown has only left them very little time to record the takes with the famous DJ, before they both contracted the virus. Martin Nathan was lucky enough to be able to get back to France, although had to remain confined and to take care of himself alone in his studio during five weeks upon his return. Samuel Clayton Jr, however, did not come back, struck down by the disease in Kingston.
The iron determination of the producer, supported by his label Jarring Effects and the Jamaican producer Stephen Stewart, did nonetheless bring the project to completion.
For his part, one thing is certain, Big Youth is in great shape! He brilliantly signs his return with that album, made up almost exclusively of new pieces, the first in many years! In the very words of the numerous prominent musicians and singers who witnessed the takes at Anchor studios in Kingston, he has lost none of his verve: « …you still get it, man! ». Sparkling and inexhaustible, distilling an amazing variety of vocal styles, that he created himself, he recalls at once “the old days”, the golden age of Jamaican reggae in the 1960 & 70’s, performs his version somewhat conspiracist, of the sanitary crisis, evokes his faith and tells about love … while perfectly merging into each universe offered by Brain Damage.
As if we are delighted to hear the elder’s shape and inventiveness, Martin Nathan is definitely not outdone and overhauls his style once again for the occasion. Always more musical, his compositions integrate diverse influences, hitherto untapped by him, like jazz, blues, ska, rock-steady … enhanced by the wonderful and smooth horn arrangements signed by Franck Boyron and his sidekicks, Baptiste Sarat and Fred Roudet. The whole, drawing on a production that left nothing to chance, surely is a new cornerstone of Brain Damage rich discography that keeps us wondering how far it will take us anew.
Samuel Clayton Jr, however, will be deeply missed. If one can hear him regularly and clearly as samples, throughout what will remain the last album he worked on, it is above all his mindset that Martin Nathan strove to respect with that new musical and human adventure.
The emotion is audible, tangible.
Little Big Sessions – Brain Damage 2021 Live Tour
2 to 3 sessions / day
PERPIGNAN (FR) – El Mediator
05+06. June (tbc) :
12+13. June :