Jamaican reggae superstar TARRUS RILEY today shares his long-awaited album Healing, out now on all DSPs via Jukeboxx Productions/Zojak Worldwide.
Produced by noted studio wizard Shane Brown and legendary sax man Dean Fraser along with Riley himself, Healing finds “Singy Singy” — as fans know the charismatic singer behind hits like “She’s Royal” and “Powerful” (with Major Lazer) — collaborating with a who’s who of today’s top dancehall acts. Jamaican stars Shenseea, Konshens, Dexta Daps, Teejay and Rvssian head up the list of featured guests on this timely and urgent soundtrack to these turbulent times.
Fully written and recorded during Jamaica’s lockdown this Spring, the 12-track LP is reggae music’s first full-length comment on the time of Covid-19. Direct and topical yet spiritual in tone, the project takes stock of the world at a time of unprecedented uncertainty, imagining a future for mankind in which we must move forward without the comforts of the past.
“I did a lot of self reflecting, like the world is doing,” Riley says of the inspirations behind the album, his first full-length since 2014’s Love Situation. “What I had to do to not panic, and keep my sanity, is to express myself. Not all of it is inspired by Covid. This project is about life itself: A soundtrack for our lives now, and maybe what is to be our lives.”
Healing was made under unique circumstances, as Jamaica instituted curfews of as early as 3pm, adding an urgency to the recording process and the recordings themselves. Writing songs on his guitar, Tarrus sent voice notes to Brown who sketched rhythms around the lyrics. Tarrus would then drive over an hour each day from his home in southeastern Jamaica to Brown’s Kingston studio to record vocal tracks before lockdown set in, an experience he likens to “preparing for war.”
Fraser and bassist Glen Browne occasionally joined them in the studio, while guitarist Mitchum ‘Khan’ Chin and drummer Kirk Bennett sent in parts from home. With the typically deep talent pool of Jamaican studio singers mostly unavailable due to social distancing, featured artists like Shenseea and even Riley’s children filled the void with backing vocals and harmonies.
Singles include the prayerful “Remember Me” (featuring Riley’s kids Akilah-Joy, Tsehai and Mekiem); “Lighter,” a radio-ready anthem featuring Shenseea and Jamaican superproducer Rvssian; and the title track “Healing,” which finds Tarrus asking the question: What will the new world be like without a simple hug?
“I’m asking a question everybody wants to know,” Tarrus says. “We need healing right now — the healing of our health, financial healing. My father is a singer and my mother is a nurse. I am them together and I make healing music.”