Album Review: Aotearoa outfit The Black Seeds deliver depth and sunshine with their long-awaited lockdown album, Love & Fire.

The Breakdown

Iconic Kiwi dub-reggae outfit The Black Seeds deliver a layered, uplifting musical experience for their seventh album release LOVE & FIRE.
Easy Star Records 8.9

There’s something special about growing up with a band. It seems like only yesterday, we were stumbling across muddy festival fields towards the infectious beats of Keep On Pushing and now here we are, listening to the latest Black Seeds release in between mopping up our children’s vomit and wondering whether we’re ever going to sleep again. What’s beautiful is that the band have been on their own journey of discovery and parenthood and that our struggles are reflected back to us in this ultimately uplifting musical experience.

From the opening tracks, hit singles Let The Sunshine Through and Love & Fire, you know you are in safe, feel-good hands with the band’s signature dub beats and lead singer Barnaby Weir’s soothing melodies. Many of these tracks originated from studio jam sessions back in 2018 but by the time they were ready to record, there was this thing called the COVID pandemic, which put a stop to any in-person collaborations.

You can almost feel the album transitioning at the mid-way point, with It’s So Real taking us somewhere deeper and funkier and Non Justice offering a political and social anthem for the times. When there’s no justice, I can’t even live in my home city sings Weir- a reality that is becoming all too true for many of us in this country.

For a band used to jamming and recording together in the studio, it must have been a challenging experience to create this album remotely. It’s a testament to their artistic bonds that they have managed to retain the Black Seed’s telltale big-band sound and instrumental cohesion in this multi-layered offering. In some ways, it feels like the creative hybrid approach has added to the texture and depth of this album. I’m sure the project helped the artists through a time of isolation and global uncertainty, as we all had to figure out a way connect via our computer screens and devices.

With Greater Expectations, we’re offered a way back to the light with lyrical reminders of inclusion and community and the optimistic horn lines of Barrett Hocking and Matthew Benton. Vocalist Daniel Weetman shines on Meditation, which delves into the negative cycles of the mind and the healing power of connection and nature. The album rounds out with two terrific, upbeat tracks, Game Over and Raised With Love Dub, which represent everything we love about this band- uplifting grooves, soul-driven beats and a unique blend of dub, afrobeat and reggae.

We can’t wait to see this album performed live. And while we may have swapped our festival tents for a comfortable warm bed and an early night after the gig, our appreciation of this iconic Kiwi band is an enduring as their sunshine soaked tunes.

‘Love & Fire’ is out now through Remote Control Records/Easy Star Records and can be downloaded and streamed here or through the link below.

Photo credit: David James

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