Music Review: Note to Self

reviewed by Damon Orion
Note to Self cover

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Owing largely to the traces of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nina Simone in her voice, Jamaican singer and yogi Jah9’s style has been called jazz on dub, but the music on her third album would be more accurately described as pop-reggae that dabbles in dub, soul, hip-hop, and R&B. Jah9’s lyrics focus on the health of mind, body, and spirit, reflecting the training in Kemetic yoga that she has used for healing in the inner cities of Jamaica as well as in the U.S., Canada, Africa, and Europe.

Note to Self starts off strong with “Heaven (Ready Fi Di Feeling),” a catchy, upbeat ode to the value of meditation and self-work as remedies for depression and anxiety. “The mind can be your greatest foe,” Jah9 sings. “I let this voice of dissent come in and mess with my head when I’m so naturally blessed.”

Themes of autonomy and balance surface throughout this album, along with the occasional message of reverence for Haile Selassie, whom Rastafarians regard as the biblical messiah. Jah9 salutes Selassie in songs like “Love Has Found I” and “Highly (Get to Me).”

“Where did you get it in your head that the value you possess was deter- mined by efficiency of taking off my dress?” the vocalist asks rhetorically. “So many things you have the opportunity to use as your excuse when you lose, but what if all you had to do to win was to learn from the example of the King?”

Somewhat paradoxically, Note to Self ends with “The Beginning,” a spoken-word contemplation of faith. “It is written that faith is the substance of things unseen,” Jah9 muses. “This only holds true if one can grasp and appreciate the limitless nature of intelligent design at work within the unseen.”

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