Talisman – Don’t Play With Fyah – Review

Reggae outfit Talisman have been playing and recording music for the better half of four decades and are set to release yet another Studio Album on the 17th of March. This new album, by Talisman, Don’t Play with Fyah is set to be yet another full length release since the bands reformation in 2011 and through the single Relijan which dropped at the start of 2017 it seems like this album does have a lot of promise, not only through the main mixes but the dub versions that also sit on this album. But without further ado lets break down Don’t Play with Fyah.

Opening up this album is the lead single Relijan which not only starts up the album with promise but also gives a clear insight in to how well this band are continuing to grow despite the length of time they have been playing. The first thing that clearly jumps out during this track is the simple yet effective reggae stylings that are overtly evident in not only this track but the entirety of the album. With a tight composition the vocals of Dehvan Othieno, Dennison Joseph and Pete Fletcher are able to effortlessly lay on top of the track that carries itself along at a steady pace. Both aspects, vocals and instrumentation is what makes Relijan a great opener.

Coming next on this album are Talkin’ Revolution and She Look Like Reggae. The first of these two tracks Talkin’ Revolution is an interesting track, however is let down by it’s repetitiveness and almost excessive run time. Despite the track being well composed both in terms of instrumentation which although isn’t ground breaking or different fro the opener is still effective, and it’s well constructed vocal melody it still feels lack luster in comparison to the albums opener. Following this is She Look Like Reggae which is another song on this album that is well composed, and with a shorter run time feels more consistent and doesn’t let itself down with any form of repetitiveness that can become quite laboring to listen to.  Overall this track is a great listen simply down to it’s vocal performance as the slow yet powerful vocals truly add an extra layer to this track.

This is then followed up by the albums title track Don’t Play With Fyah, which is simply just a fun track and is possibly the strongest track on the entire release. When this track first starts you can’t help but bop along to the strong instrumentation that is different in it’s make up to the track that proceed it and truly being the mid point of this album truly gives a lot of promise for what is on the latter half of this record. Again like in many of the tracks on Don’t Play With Fyah the harmonies that come from the vocalists in Talisman is something special with a very simplistic harmony set that works perfectly.

This brings the album past it’s midpoint as we hit another set of two tracks which come in the form of Hear No Evil and Racism Never Sleep. The former of these two track Hear No Evil is unfortunately the weakest track on this release and that fact is only exaggerated coming after Don’t Play With Fyah, as it is in this the vocals on the track are the weakest they are on the entire album. However the instrumentation on Hear No Evil is actually quite well orchestrated still in terms of how it is put together and how well the different parts of the album come together. The latter of these two tracks, Racism Never Sleep is simple yet effective, with some great lyricism on a hard hitting issue the song almost has a life of it’s own in that context and this together with the simplistic instrumental makeup makes it a track which can in a sense pack a punch.

Directly after this comes the album’s final song Wheel and Come Again, before we hit the dubs of each track, knowing this it does mean the album unfortunately feels short lived, despite there being 7 more song which are effectively slight reworkings of what has come prior. This track is a great final of the initial seven songs that lay on this record, as not only through the faster beat that powers this track along there is this well orchestrated instrumentation the song possesses similarly to Don’t Play With Fyah which is inherently fun to listen to. This alongside the vocal performance that sits on this track make it an excellent closer.

Finally we reach the dubs of the 7 tracks which make up Talisman’s upcoming record. After a few changes in name to add the word ‘dub’ to each title the tracks soon show their apparent changes. With the loss of vocals on some track and changes to mixing and the occasional extra instrument the tracks do become a great listen for a few spins but after that they all seem to blend together and it is only if you specifically select one of the tracks that the merit of it is clear. Overall these tracks are interesting to listen to but aren’t necessarily anything special and don’t necessarily add anything new to the tracks that the original tracks already had. Apart from the fact that certain tracks that appeared lack luster or weaker during the main albums track listing are given a second life in these dub mixes and add an extra level of enjoyment to them.

Overall this new Talisman album is a great listen for any fans of reggae and through some well crafted instrumentation and beautifully crafted vocal performances it is an album that has many highlights however, there is one draw back to this album that weakens it as a whole and that is the run time of some of the tracks, after a short while the tracks seem to become repetitive in themselves and in a sense become stale. Yet that still doesn’t draw away from the fact that Don’t Play With Fyah does have highlights all over it in both terms of instrumentation and vocals and is definitely worth checking out when it drops in March.