Organic feel to Ecosystem

Observer senior writer

Sunday, June 18, 2017

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Never one to be conventional, singer Courtney John took a different direction for his fifth album. He wanted a sound that has resonated with reggae fans for over 40 years.

“I always wanted to do a classic-sounding reggae record but it had to be done with the right people, an' that's what I've done,” he told Sunday Observer.

That album, Ecosystem, was released Friday, by Soul Man Records out of Paris, France and his Fi Wi Music label. It has an organic feel that recalls Desmond Dekker, Augustus Pablo, and famed session organist, Winston Wright.

The 11-track set is produced by Pierre-Marie Williamson (aka Brimstone) of Soul Man Records with I-nity (Williamson's business partner) in charge of assembling the cast of French musicians who worked on it.

Production on Ecosystem started one year ago, shortly after John and Williamson spoke about the possibility of doing a full-scale project. It has a live, stripped-down sound that has attracted Europeans to roots-reggae since the early 1970s.

For John, known for ballads like Lucky Man and Baby Tonight, it is his most fulfilling project to date.

“Working with musicians made a big difference. It wasn't like working with someone who give mi a rhythm an' mi sing,” he said.

The lead song, All The Way, was released last week. Other strong tracks are the Dekker-ish It's For Real and Cold Feet, which has a ska tone reminiscent of American west coast bands.

Ecosystem is released digitally but will also be available on vinyl.

Then known as Yogie, Courtney John broke through in the late 1990s with lovers rock songs like That Was Then and a cover of American blue-eyed soul singer Paul Davis' I Go Crazy.

He has also experimented with ska on songs such as Lucky Man and toured with singer/songwriter Michael Franti.

John plans to push Ecosystem in markets where he has a foothold: his old hometown, Toronto; Europe, the US west coast, and Argentina.




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