New York reggae artist Louis Atlas will drop his fourth album March 15. Comprising 10-tracks of scrumptious reggae concoctions, the songs on Coconut Dream are about love.
According to Atlas, “It’s because I’m in love. Now, I can’t say I’ve never written love songs. But I’m inspired now to write songs filled with longing and joy and happiness. That’s what I’m feeling now. And I’ve always written about what I feel at the moment.”
Originally from Rochester, NY, Atlas grew up with music in his soul and singing in his blood. Later, he began playing in rock bands, and then attended the Boston Conservatory. From there he went to New York, where he landed the role of Teen Angle in the national tour of Grease.
It was during a vacation on Long Island that Atlas experienced a personal satori. “One day I headed out to the beach, turned on my portable player to listen to Bob Marley’s ‘Kaya.’ And I tell you, after the first note on that record, I was awestruck and just stood still in amazement. I was hooked. Something happened inside of me. I said out loud, ‘Oh my God … Oh my God!’ I’d just discovered the most wonderful thing in the world.”
He was hooked for life.
First with Blue Reggae, then with a band called Fatman, he established his bona fides, not by mimicry, but by being himself. Atlas explains, “One day at a rehearsal I was doing a cover song and one of the musicians said, ‘You sound like a mouse. Just sing it like yourself.’ That was really good advice because, man, you really can’t fake anything. “
Since then, he’s released three stellar albums: Beat of the Heart, Citizen of NYC, and Arms of Heaven. The new album, Coconut Dream, features a who’s who of talent, including Andy Bassford (guitar), Bryonha Parham (vocals), and Christian Cassan (producer, drummer).
Two tracks from the album, “The Lunatics” and “The People Must Be Free” are presently available for preview. “The Lunatics” opens on a roots reggae groove featuring tight skiffing guitars and a one-drop beat. Parham’s delicious background vocals fill the tune with iridescent ebullience as Atlas’ velvety, rich tones imbue the lyrics with contagious tones.
“The People Must Be Free” rides radiant pulses of color atop a skintight rhythm of taut percussion and a throbbing bass line. A deep leitmotif resounds in the backdrop, adding dark, potent energy as the glow of the organ oozes with creamy assurance. Atlas’ voice takes on a penetrating resonance, nuanced with fervent textures.
Both tracks are excellent, full of infectious supple melodies, buff rhythms, and the evocative tones of Louis Atlas.