After dropping his Easy Star Records debut album Sharp & Ready to critical acclaim, Double Tiger (Jay Spaker) is back with The Journey, which is his most diverse and personal collection to date. The album features an all-star lineup of artists including Slightly Stoopid, The Movement, Ranking Joe, Elliot Martin (John Brown’s Body), Suckarie (New Kingston), and Karim Israel (Arise Roots). Double Tiger has a new video for the track “Nice Time” that was recently premiered at World A Reggae. Watch it at https://youtu.be/9B6bN1byJCw.
It has been a tumultuous couple of years for Spaker, and the music on The Journey reflects this. He began writing and recording the record when John Brown’s Body (for which he was guitarist/vocalist) was winding down and going on hiatus. He had recently moved to Los Angeles after a lifetime of living in New York (both upstate and in the city). The sound of the tunes manage to capture this balance between his East coast roots and the West coast sound he was suddenly immersed in, with a good portion of the album heavily influenced by California life, the ocean, mountains, and the vibrant left coast culture. As Spaker puts it, “this album is a blend of the many styles of reggae that inspire me. The previous one was straight rub a dub focused. When I got to L.A., I was in a more open place and started exploring other aspects I had always loved – like lovers rock, rockers – but never really messed with in my own writing.”
While mixing and finishing the record, Double Tiger had to relocate back to Ithaca, NY, to care for his father, who was battling an illness that eventually took his life in August 2020. Add in the situation around COVID-19 and the shutdown of the touring industry – a mainstay of Spaker’s musical career – and this record becomes the soundtrack of an even bigger journey for the veteran artist.
Besides being well known for his involvement with John Brown’s Body, Spaker is also half of Tour De Force, and co-founder of the hip Franco/Brooklyn sound system-focused label Dub Stuy Records. Spaker has also collaborated with legendary artists such as Luciano, Johnny Osbourne, Sly & Robbie, Brother Culture, Omar Perry, Al Campbell. Lutan Fyah, Eek A Mouse, and Scientist, contributing to a prolific output of releases.
You can hear Double Tiger pushing through a diversity of styles on the thirteen track album as he tackles heavier topics from politics and society to universal themes of love and humanity. “Drop Sound” featuring Slightly Stoopid, is an anthem for all of the hard working musicians who tirelessly travel the globe to give musical “medicine” to the people. A song that reminds us why live music is so important and looks to the future when we can all gather again to listen. “Universal Love” features guest vocals from Karim Israel of the Los Angeles-based reggae band Arise Roots, and is about humanity clinging to fear-based thinking; Double Tiger posits that if we had a universal love, seeing everyone as family, that would make a more beautiful world, which is certainly refreshing and uplifting message in these turbulent and uncertain times. Tattoo.com already boasted that “…with ‘Universal Love,’ Double Tiger generates sultry reggae tinted by tinges of rock, shimmering with plush emotional commitment, and charismatic vocals.”
“Rub A Dub Party” featuring New Kingston’s guitarist/vocalist Stephen Suckarie, switches direction and brings an old-school house party vibe to The Journey. Its accompanying music video, which premiered at Reggaeville.com, illustrates the song perfectly, with a lo-fi, thrown together style that exemplifies the instant fun created by throwing a big sound system into a house, adding plenty of liquor and weed smoke, and letting everybody get on down. Another single from the album is “Shadow Dweller,” featuring The Movement, which is about those that secretly want to see you fail. It’s a reminder to stay positive and to not deal with this type of energy. Rootfire.net premiered the song and stated, “In general, The Journey exemplifies craftsmanship of tone, smartly constructed arrangements and attention to detail. ‘Shadow Dweller’ dresses this recipe with an extra-healthy dose of fire: living room dance parties of one take heed.”
The Journey showcases an artist hitting their stride, as Double Tiger creates one of the most exciting reggae albums of 2020. With his diverse background and different approaches to reggae, there aren’t many artists in the U.S. scene that sound much like Double Tiger. His vocal styles hearken back to reggae stars like Sugar Minott and Frankie Paul, from the earliest days of dancehall, while his music brings a fresh approach influenced plenty by current trends in the genre. Double Tiger concludes, “I am very privileged to make music and believe in its power to heal and bring folks together. This last year has been powerfully transformative with my father’s passing, COVID, etc. so having this album finally out in the world is a blessing and I would like to dedicate this one to Pops.”
The album is out now on Easy Star Records and available to stream and purchase at http://moremusic.at/TheJourney