Some (seemingly average) albums can’t be adequately reviewed without going through track by track and analysing what they’re made of. I think this is one needs such treatment in order that the review won’t seem trite or superficial. I can assure you, this approach pays dividends in that the record gets a much more detailed hearing and the reviewer builds a fuller insight into the band’s intentions. So here goes…...
The opener ‘Thief in the Night’ sets out Samsara’s stall admirably, showing them to be essentially an eighties-fashion Two-Tone-type Ska/Reggae Outfit, with a little bit of Dub to add depth and miscellaneous exotic extras thrown in to spice up the mix. Very upbeat and highly danceable.
‘Rise’ is a fairly gentle sub-Marley roots reggae number. It’s very well executed with a fine Specials style horn section contributing massively to the brilliant instrumental break.
After a few seagulls, ‘Race to the Future’ opens suggesting an Oriental flavoured blues – but then bursts, via Zimbabwe, into a UB40-type Anglo-Jamaican slow skank.
Veering off on a pleasant musical tangent, ‘Empty People’ is a pretty little ditty imploring the unenlightened masses [you & me?] to open their eyes to the world around them. The middle-eight consists of a most impressive soft-rock guitar break.
After a bit of cosmic mysticism, ‘Wordly Winds’ starts off like a fairly standard English folk tune – dramatic guitar riff, marching drums and jiggy dance rhythms – then in come the voices using a lilting ozzie-reggae stylee a la Men at Work. These two contrasting threads weave in and out of each other in a very pleasing fashion maintaining a body-rocking ambience throughout. Smashing.
The final track ‘Full Circle' [featuring Dizraeli] again opens with a slightly eastern intro, then takes a slight detour up country with a bit of steel guitar before falling into a multi-genre-fusion which is like a spot-the-influence patchwork of great themes all competing for the limelight pushing and shoving. As per the old cliché – everything but the kitchen sink is thrown in but amazingly there no sense of messiness – it’s perfectly blended and should stand as a paradigm to anyone with pretensions towards being a successful crossover musician.
Pulling this altogether, I’d describe Samsara as a group that’s taken the those English Midlands Reggae bands from the 1980s as their model and built on the style using musical genres from all over the world and throughout the history of pop music to produce a startlingly new angle on The Jamaican sound. They do this with much panache and the result is a great little album that deserves to be a great international success.