Shanty - Strange Little Human : EP Review
Although London Reggae collective Shanty may not be your stereotypical BOOT MUSIC kind of band , we're always looking to branch out, and these guys have impressed us way too much over the past few years not to get a mention. When they first formed, they emanated an out and out sunshine-reggae vibe, with upbeat brass hooks blended with easy going lyrics of summer love. Although they were exceptionally good at producing this sound you always got the feeling that they needed something extra to fully progress. Now after a few years experience and a decent amount of re-shuffling amongst band members, their brand new EP , Strange Little Human shows a growing maturity and everything necessary to make 2017 a hell of a year for them all.
The first two tracks on the EP, Pressure and previously released single, Nowhere To Nowhere aren't too far from their previous work, but they highlight a continued movement towards the slightly more atmospheric side of reggae sounds. However it is the other songs that really shine through and give us an insight into their potential. Previously performed in Shanty's 'Sofar session' , Happy To Be Sad allows the collective to explore different genres again. Although still capturing the essence of the Shanty sound , it would not seem out of place on any mainstream radio station, with poignant, heart-felt vocals it provides an added element of real marketability and could open them up to a much wider audience and let the average music lover, discover how unique their sound is.
The title track, and final song on the EP, Strange Little Human may not be the catchiest , or the most radio savvy but it is the one the had impressed us the most and characterizes everything that the nine-piece are so brilliant at. Switching between an infectious , upbeat, Ska hook that is reminiscent of their early days and a slower dub-heavy section it manages to showcase all their talents in one song, not only instrumentally. The lyrical interplay between Ben Willis and MC, Levi Gordon creates yet another layer of depth. As a late addition to the Shanty line-up , it was hard at first to see where Levi fitted in to the band , but ever since releasing Nowhere To Nowhere as a single, he has continued to grow into their structure adding elements of grime to their tracks and helping push forward that modern twist on reggae they are aiming to create , and his contribution is not demonstrated anywhere better than on Strange Little Human. Furthermore the song is capped off with yet another incredible display of Ben Willis' incomparable soulful vocals, producing more emotion in a few Egyptian sounding , scat-style syllables than most can in the most sentimental of lines. The 7 minute indulgence into reggae music offers two-tone , grime, intensified emotion and the extravagance worthy of any arena. Their most all encompassing track by far, it caps off a brilliant EP to perfection.