Etana | Free Expressions

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Etana - Free Expressions

Etana| Free Expressions
By Peggy Oliver

Her name is The Strong One in Swahili and she clearly lives up to her name. Etana shares all her thoughts in an old-school reggae style tossed with old-fashioned, unabashed soul that the urban music audience is dreadfully missing in the millennium. Though the artist whose birth name is Shauna McKenzie is receiving more press in the past few years, the road to fame was paved with many lessons learned personally and professionally. While living in Florida, she was part of the vocal band, Gift. During her tenure with the all girl group, her record company required Etana to compromise her ethical principals. Eventually she broke away back to her homeland of August Town, a suburb of Kingston, Jamaica. Soon another chapter would be written as the one time aspiring nurse joined acclaimed reggae vocalist and label mate Richie Spice on tour while gathering more experience for the future. Her first solo appearance was in Ghana, West Africa; a pivotal moment where her commanding stage presence and shear confidence brought adulation and respect from a growing international audience. With a wealth of hits in 2006 and 2007 like “Wrong Address,” “Warrior Love” and “Roots,” Etana was finally on the radar as a vocally mature, solid representative of roots reggae and a voice for the people struggling with pressing issues. Her debut disc from 2008, The Strong One, which included all the aforementioned singles, incorporated Etana’s love of reggae, soul, hip-hop and the adult contemporary pop of Air Supply. Etana kept busy with featured appearances on numerous reggae and riddim compilations including Riddim Drivin: Rocksteady and on a fundraising single supporting the victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, “Rise Again.”

After releasing a three-song EP in 2010, Etana returns in 2011 with Free Expressions, where the singer/songwriter establishes an open book on liberation, love, pain, politics and anything else that crosses her mind. One of several singles off this VP disc, “Free,” is a cleansing anthem with an equally soothing soundtrack of acoustic guitar and keyboards: “Freeing
myself from everything that holds me captive.” For that special someone in Etana’s life “I Got You” simmers with southern soul that draws from Malaco, Hi & Stax Records heyday. Leaning in a hip-hop direction, “Venting” sends plenty of unapologetic messages about hypocrisy and the like; drenched in a heavy-hitting barrage of beats, vocal chants and strings. Etana cleverly shifts between aggressive chorus and angelic textures to increase the track’s intense mood. Of course, there are plenty of classic reggae roots along with touches of dub to choose from. The current single, “August Town” documents a recent dramatic event that occurred in Etana’s birthplace. ”People Talk” reflects her thoughts on how people may think, especially in the music business. “Retribution” presents a guidepost in how to handle our daily business: “Every day is a page from your biography.” The empowering “Moving On” provides the much needed getaway from a busted relationship:
“I’m going to find my favorite song in my car and drive real fast and go real far.” For the lover’s rock lovers, “Happy Heart” accommodates quite nicely.

These tracks are just some of the reasons why Free Expressions is a winning effort. With Etana’s secure vocal performances and stimulating lyrics, Free Expressions continues to fulfill the Strong One’s mission in proving music can strongly impact lives in so many ways.

Peggy Oliver
The Urban Music Scene

MORE Music Reviews on T.U.M.S.!:

Ricky Dillard | Choirmaster
Kelly Rowland | Coffee
Boney James | Solid
Keyboardist Jason Miles Big-Ups Black Icons with Black Magic
Sophisticated Soul Singer Will Downing Salutes Baritone Vocal Classics On Romantique Part 2
Second Outing from Corea McBride & Blade Finds Trio as Virtuous and Versatile as Ever
Fantasia | Sketchbook
Raphael Saadiq | Jimmy Lee
Poncho Sanchez | Trane's Delight
Jéssica Pina | Essência
Kirk Franklin | LONG LIVE LOVE
Amazing Grace: Aretha Brings The Mountaintop Down to South Central L.A.
New Orleans Offers Up A Sassy Blue Angel
Chaka Khan | Hello Happiness
The Return of The Undisputed Truth is a Sonic Blast From The Past
Shanice: The 'S' is for Steamy on No Sleep new single "He Won't"
London Jones | For You
John Legend | A Legendary Christmas
Will Downing | The Promise
Rhythm Tribe Introduces New Style, Acid Latin, With Return Single "You Can't Take Me Down"
Bob James Drops First Trio CD As A Leader in Over a Decade
Gabrielle | Under My Skin
Piano Wonder Joey Alexander's Third Outing Proves He's On The Path to Mastery
MeShell Pretzels and Dives Beneath The Surface of `80s & `90s Soul Hits
En Vogue | Electric Café
Sade | "Flower of the Universe" (From Disney's 'A Wrinkle In Time')
Walter Beasley - The Best of Walter Beasley | The Affable Years, Volume 1
Sy Smith | Sometimes a Rose Will Grow in Concrete
Dr. Lonnie Smith | All in My Mind
Soul Man Owens' Country Cash Project Pays Off Some of the Time
Fantasia | Christmas After Midnight
Dee Dee Bridgewater Returns To Birthplace For Soul Food on Memphis...Yes, I'm Ready
Krystle Warren | Three The Hard Way
Boney James | Honestly
Maysa | Love Is A Battlefield
LaBelle Tries On Jazz Hat To Troublesome Effect

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hide