I have to confess that when I saw the title for this one, I was immediately concerned that this was going to be an album that spent more time looking back to past glories, rather than looking forward. Fortunately those fears were calmed and very quickly.
There is an elephant in the room and that’s “Radio Africa Continued” which categorically links The Steve Skaith Band with it’s Latin Quarter past, but is very much an updated version of the song, one that takes into account the changes of politics across Africa since the original version, but highlights the little change in outcomes for the people. The names and regimes may have changed, but in many cases the situations are as bad, if not worse than they were.
It’s by no means the only link to the past, but as the best known song on the album, it’s the one that carries the weight of letting the listener know that this is a different sounding album, one that has been built for the 21st century
Rather than reviving the past, the album builds bridges into the future. As you would expect, “Latin Quarter Revisited” is a political album. A number of causes and issues are visited across its tracks. There’s two ways to inject politics into music, one is to take the Bono approach, adopt a holier than though attitude and preach at you. The second, more effective, technique is to write intelligent well thought out songs that make you think and want to get a better understanding of the events.
There were a couple of occasions that I felt myself drawing different conclusions to some of those contained in the songs, but it felt more like a debate than a speech and that takes real writing talent.
It’s sometimes easy to play the blame game on some of the issues, particularly those that involve the slaughter of animals and the stripping of the earth’s resources, but if there wasn’t a market for tiger skins, rhino horns and ebony it wouldn’t be harvested. In the end, who is most at fault the hunter that barely gets enough to feed his family or the middle man that provides the connection. The man that steals the blood diamond or the man that makes a vast fortune selling it on.
As important as the politics is the album its self, does it stand on its merits as a collection of songs, the answer is yes, despite the added complications of having to record it in two continents, with percussionist Ricardo Serrano being based in Mexico whilst the rest of the band are UK based.
It’s well written and well performed, its world music vibe blending in seamlessly with it’s more folky notes. The result is an album that genuinely works on a number of different levels. It can provide accompaniment to the routine of the day, but when you’re ready to give it its own time and space it delivers a deep and meaningful reward. (by Fatea Magazine)
Catherine Burke (clarinet, mandolin, flute, background vocals)
Siobhan Culhane (accordion,violin, whistle, harmonica, background vocals)
Ricardco Serano (drums, percussion)
Steve Skaith (guitar, vocals)
James Ahwai (bass, background vocals)
Steve Jeffries (piano)
01. New Millionaires (Jeffries/Jones) 3.51
02. Radio Africa Continued (Skaith/Keefe/Jones) 3.43
03. Something Isn’t Happening (Skaith/Jones) 4.16
04. Dominion (Skaith/Jones) 5.01
05. The Night (Skaith/Jones) 3.55
06. Eddie (Skaith/Jones/Keefe) 3.10
07. Remember (Skaith) 3.27
08. Donovan’s Doorway (Skaith/Jones) 3.15
09. It Makes My Heart Stop Speaking (Skaith/Jones) 4.04
10. I Together (Skaith/Jones) 3.18
11. Church On Fire (Jones/Kagona/Kangwena/Skaith) 3.52