The 32 Golden Souls’ Under a Single Sky has something to say about unity. The title alone announces this album’s ambition to not only bring together an all-star musical team that includes some of reggae’s most legendary artists, but to explore all of the eclectic sounds and styles that make up the genre.
The result is a timeless and versatile 14-track album that borrows from ska, jazz, blues, funk, soul, R&B, and 90s hip-hop to showcase the dizzying array of vibes that all fall under the umbrella of reggae, from impassioned protest songs (“Church & State”) to groovy dance numbers (“Mr. Too Fat”) to soulful love songs (“Hit Me”).
The album is the collaborative effort of 32 singers and musicians — the 32 “golden souls” —among them Winston McAnuff, Big Youth OD, Derajah, Cedric Myton, Kiddus I, Jah’Mila, and Lymie Murray. Despite being scattered across 14 different countries, the artists came together to cook up in-person chemistry in the studio, captured in rare form by Studio One-style analog recording techniques, for a sound that’s authentic, relevant, rooted in reggae tradition, and a breath of fresh air in today’s musical landscape.
With such an impressive collection of musical talent powering the album, it’s no surprise that the project attracted some of the music industry’s finest, including famed French audio engineer Dominique Blanc Francard, whose resume includes projects with David Bowie and Elton John.
The idea for the project started simply enough, as a conversation between producer Alex Ph and reggae veteran Winston McAnuff. The discussion quickly evolved into a grander vision of an album that would stay true to the roots of the genre and preserve what’s most timeless and authentic about reggae while exploring new possibilities and moving the sound forward into modernity.
The singles, out on the 26th of November 2021 include: “Tears Drop Fall” ft. Winston Mcanuff & Cedric Myton. It is a ska song that shows what the genre is capable of. The other single is “Church & State,” a track inspired by classic Kingston protest songs that proves just how versatile reggae can be, mixing fearless vocals with dramatic violins and a sample of Django Reinhardt’s “Minor Swing.”
Under a Single Sky is slated for release in 2022 from Canadian music label HBS Records.