Album Review: HIRIE – Wandering Soul (New Music Friday – Ep 24 Winner)

HIRIE – Wandering Soul

Wandering soul is an album steeped deep in the sensibilities of the reggae genre, but explores global musical styles and a spiritual lyricism to deliver pop melodies in a satisfyingly accessible way. The title track “Wandering Soul” begins as a percussive statement and creates a primal, ancestral vibe that is only strengthened by the entrance of the didgeridoo. It isn’t long before the distinct reggae pulse emerges with electronic embellishments. It’s an arrangement that quickly settles in and aptly fits with HIRIE’s sensual pop vocal expertise – the tone of which is somewhere between the trifecta of Rihanna, Colbie Caillat and Demi Lovato. Kaledescopic is one word for it, fitting for a song that thematically explores the nomadic spirit inherent to our human experience. Confident brass arrangements add power to what is ultimately a groovy, laid-back tune.

“Good Vibration” combines cultures and influences in a distinctly new-age sort of way, ultimately using these influences to point to a reverence of planet earth, a patient urging for greater emphasis on intentionality. The song is also a tasteful duet with Trevor Hall, two contrasting vocal qualities that create a complimentary conversation. Again, spacey intros and outros allow for graceful transitions between songs.

“Renegade” features a catchy melody and hook, dipping it’s figurative toes more explicitly into the politically revolutionary history of reggae as a genre while still maintaining a relaxed, feet-in-the-sand sort of slow dance. The track features Nakho, whose bars add an element of fire to the album’s trajectory that is otherwise immersed in the feeling of water. “Don’t Take My Ganja” is a hazy, slow-burning cannabis anthem singing to the “man in uniform” that “you can take anything you want/ but don’t take my ganja”. These sentiments are echoed again on “Boom Fire” and lyrically, it’s unclear if the ode is directed at a person or marijuana personified a la Tom Petty’s “Last Dance With Mary Jane”.

“Melody of a Broken Heart” takes on a more reflective tone, as the title would suggest, but does build into a climax of emotive sax lines accompanied by strings, fading out to playful tones that sound like a early 90’s video-game throw back – an unexpected turn that’s equal parts confusing a delightful.

Wandering Soul is an album of consistent thematic focus. The arrangements feature a whole army of different instruments, organic and electronic, but are able to maintain an impressive consistency. The production of the songs is crisp and intentional. Whether you find yourself on a literal beach or buried deep in an arctic snow bank, it’s an album that drips with sunshine and tastes like salt water on your lips.

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