Tarrus RileyMecoustic     9/10

Confused by the 1% Occupiers and what they want/stand for? Try talking to a Rastafarian.

Rastas and Occupiers have much in common. Neither is a religion per se. There is a prevailing, albeit nebulous, value that ‘The Man’ is to blame for lots of stuff. They’re a bit hippy, sharing some wholesome homilies and renouncing ‘isms’, labels and hierarchies so each man, woman and child can follow their conscience.

And each is so few in numbers that 1% might do them a compliment.

Now, in a bold move, the gifted/blessed young Jamaican-New Yorker Tarrus Riley is attempting to gather the world’s oppressed under his Mecoustics umbrella. His fourth album – due out this week – is a tuneful challenge to a “system set to keep the family out there fighting and the slave master rejoicing.” He is both evangelist and take-no-prisoners Gil Scott-Heron: these “challenging times” of “dollars decreasing, bills increasing” rip apart families as “the belly of the beast gets larger.” Ganja is not celebrated here.

Mecoustics astounds with vocal ability over new and revisited songs that are engaging, perfectly produced… and pose difficult, challenging and necessary questions.

Why, #tincanland asked in a too-short interview, this album now? Riley’s reply was disingenuous: “When last was a good acoustic album made?”

Eric Bibb does one a year, actually – among others. But going acoustic ingeniously makes it easier to accept Mecoustics’ challenge to take a spiritual inventory. Bob Marley let you off the hook; No Woman, No Cry could be a love song if you want. Jah himself said if it is his will let it be done. Riley, rightly I think, isn’t so charitable.

The man who thinks he’s larger than life, he doesn’t even know how his soul is surviving. He doesn’t know when he came or when he’ll go. He doesn’t care. He thinks he has things figured out.

For a basic understanding of Rasta culture and history see Jah.com