On April 9th, award winning singer/songwriter/guitarist Taj Weekes and his band Adowa will release their fourth CD "Pariah in Transit" on Jatta Records. The album’s 10 tracks represent some of their finest performances over the past two years throughout North America and at St. Lucia’s world-renowned jazz festival in May 2011.
Serving as a vibrant reminder for listeners who have already experienced Taj Weekes & Adowa’s concerts and an unforgettable introduction for those who haven’t, "Pariah In Transit" offers inspired renditions of songs spanning their three albums including audience favorite "Scream Out Mellow" from their debut album "Hope & Doubt;" "Propaganda War," a powerful crusade against the media’s tailored lies from sophomore release "Deidem," honored as the Best Reggae Album at the Just Plain Folks Music Awards in 2008; and the anti-war anthem "Since Cain" and "Rain Rain," an homage to Hurricane Katrina survivors that ranked among many critics best-of lists in 2010 from "A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen."
Music fans irrespective of their geographic location will embrace the wide-ranging issues and eclectic musical elements that make "Pariah In Transit" one of the year’s most important reggae releases. Preserving time-tested Caribbean music traditions in his role as an inspiring troubadour and progressive social activist, Taj’s deeply personal expressions of universal struggles are offered as catalysts for global change.
"Pariah in Transit" opens with Taj singing "An Angry Language" (from "Hope & Doubt"), his reedy vocals lamenting societal brainwashing as he looks to "seek the spaces within my thoughts to unlearn what I’ve been taught." Biased communication is called to task when battling the media’s "Propaganda War" waged with "tailored lies, untutored scores, the truth they hide from we." Taj condemns the endless cycle of global conflict on the Biblically referenced "Since Cain," the urgency of his message propelled by the song’s jaunty tempo: "is there anyone with sense put an end to this violence?? I kill you, you kill me,? we’ve got an empty country….since Cain, since Cain slew Abel, misery and pain."
"Jordan" was extemporaneously written and performed at a ski lodge when the venue’s owner requested an extended performance by Taj and Adowa, following the audience’s enthusiastic reaction. "We had run through the entire set so I asked my guitarist if he could hold two chords. He started playing and I started singing "where there is love, there is life, way over Jordan there will be no strife," Taj recalled. "I recorded it on my phone, we listened back to it and said, yeah, we have a song here. Now, anytime we play live, we hold two chords and play Jordan." "Jordan" will be included on Taj’s as of yet untitled forthcoming studio album due in 2014. The rendition featured on "Pariah in Transit," recorded at Toronto’s Beerfest in 2012, concludes with Taj decrying the restrictive laws against marijuana usage, a sentiment that garners resounding support each time the song is performed.
"For Today," from "Deidem," bolsters the force of good rising above evil, irrespective of the circumstances, while "Life" is Taj’s personal testimony to such a victory, written about the numerous struggles he overcame relocating from St. Lucia to Canada, prior to his move to New York City, where he is currently based.
A bubbling drum and bass pattern underscores Taj’s defiance on "Little Fire," stirred by his attempts to surmount music industry hurdles, but the song’s survival sensibility is applicable to any challenge. An indelible reggae groove is woven throughout "We Stand," as Taj’s ever resilient lyrics "though hope is frail, we must prevail," is punctuated by an improvised chant of "stand up" as the song fades into thunderous applause from the audience at the Roots and Blues Festival in Salmon Arm, Canada.
Blues inspired harmonica riffs open "Rain Rain," from "A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen," which chastises leadership for neglecting the victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans; Taj expresses his indignation through a series of powerful poetic images: "The newsreels are all soaked the day the levees broke/since no one’s speaking, the roof’s still leaking/now love’s down to a drizzle, memories how they fizzle/amnesia’s in, they’ve forgotten."
The rendition of "Scream Out Mellow" recorded in Tofino, British Columbia, featuring a jazzy drum solo and crunching rock guitar riffs embellishing a crisp one-drop rhythm, provides a fitting conclusion for "Pariah In Transit’s" sonic odyssey with Taj’s ethereal high register often belying the might of his lyrics. "Someone once told me that I was saying something very loudly but I wasn’t raising my voice. I was screaming out, mellow. The world turns, and I am telling you to pay attention, but I am bringing you the message in a soft voice. My mother used to say if someone is trying to make a point and all they do is yell, all you will remember is that they were yelling. But if I make that point softly, and you get it, then you are going to remember the message I was trying to convey."
Taj’s activism isn’t confined to his song lyrics. His philanthropic efforts throughout the Caribbean on behalf of his organization TOCO (They Cry Often Outreach) have earned him Goodwill Ambassador status by The International Consortium of Caribbean Professionals (ICCP) as well as the St. Lucia House Foundation’s "Distinguished Humanitarian Award." A portion of the sales proceeds from "Pariah in Transit" will be donated to TOCO to facilitate further educational programs focusing on an array of maladies currently facing the Caribbean including the rise in HIV/AIDS, the effects of global warming, inflation, food shortages and rampant poverty as manifested in an escalating crime rate.