Humble Soul describes his music as “Island Roots Music.” The island is Hawaii and the roots are Reggae. Lines between genres can get blurry, but Humble Soul’s music, formerly labeled Jawaiian, is part of a new cultural diaspora that recognizes the coexistence of Reggae with a Hawaiian root. Socially conscious lyrics, intoxicating drums and a slack-key guitar carry Humble Soul’s raspy, haunted, and sometimes pleading voice from the top of Diamond Head to Trench Town, Jamaica, the birth place of Reggae. Jah sprinkled pakalolo in the Poi.
“Pakalolo Sweet” is an up-tempo, dreamy cut about eros love, or is it really about pakalolo- the earthy, fruity, spicy ganja found only in Hawaii? The drumbeat is soft and steady as a lover’s heartbeat. The bongos are light and airy, like the butterflies that flutter in your belly as you lean into a lover’s kiss… The keyboard rides the waves into a flood as Humble Soul’s smoky voice exhales, echoing the dreamy, euphoric high of Maui Wowie. Vocals and music waft into a peaceful, pleasurable afterglow. “Close the curtains/blow out the light/because I want to love you tonight.” Tranquil and exhilarating, this song, like a pakalolo bud, is beautiful and sensual, and beckons you to light up.
Philos love is captured in the soulful, spiritual, haunting “Birds Eye View.” Mellow, sweet and upbeat, Humble Soul’s warbling channels Bob Marley’s voice and his passion. The melancholy melody is haunted by lyrics inciting rebellion against Babylon. The message is harsh, but the delivery is understated, elegant and simple. Production values are highest on this cut, which is lean and on point. The sound quality is clear and crisp. Clever use of reverberation of the voices of female back up singers to eerily parrot Humble Soul’s hook adds a hypnotic chant affect that perfects “Birds Eye View.” Igniting with a brush of the high-hat and a spark of keyboard, drums and a mysterious piccolo join in and add muscle to this cry to arms. Steel drums march in as birdcalls and chimes juxtapose a tropical, primitive war cry over a sophisticated blend of keyboard and ghostly vocals. “Bird’s Eye View” is a classic Reggae anthem for peace, justice and brotherly love.
Recorded before a live audience, “Laugh a Little” is happy and bouncy … the kind of tune that makes you do the hula at a Reggae concert. Agile guitar licks introduce Humble Soul’s lilting vocals as drums take over the lead in this cut. Humble Soul sings “Do the best you can/Keep on keeping on” with a gentle ferocity and conviction of spirit born out of the universal experience of struggle. Notes plucked from the slack key guitar slither around an unrelenting drumbeat that flickers like a flame and adds a Middle Eastern flair to an inspirational song of victory and perseverance. A dash of steel drums attempts, but fails, to overtake the star of this song, the slack key guitar. The keyboard takes over and as tension builds a drum crescendo leads full circle to the guitar as it struts it’s stuff into sudden silence. The lulled crowd screams awake as Humble Soul salutes his Rasta philosophy with a shout out.
Humble Soul shares five generous tracks on his MySpace page, in which four of the five are classic Reggae tunes. Themes address poverty, love-eros, philos, agape resistance to government and racial oppression. Pounding drumbeats exalt love, consciousness and mindfulness. Humble Soul’s belief in his lyrics is reflected in the often-controlled fury in his vocals, which can at times dwarf the bass and keyboards. Fans of classic Reggae artists like The Gladiators and Black Uhuru will appreciate his searing songs that are chock full lamentations and political pleas for justice. Expecting Don Ho v. Bob Marley? King Kamehameha v. Emperor Haile Selassie? Jawaiian noises? Doug Bautista, aka Humble Soul, gives big ups to traditional Reggae. His music is pure roots Reggae: poetic, passionate, powerful expressions of the fight for peace and love in a hostile world ruled by oppression. Examine it yourself. Http://www.myspace.com/humblesoul1