It would be easy to chalk Soul Majestic up as one of Santa Barbara’s seemingly endless stream of chilled-out reggae acts. But then again, appearances can be deceiving. For Setting the Tone, which dropped earlier this week, the band took to the web and crowd funded their way through the recording, mixing, mastering, and pressing processes. The result is a nuanced mix of sun-dappled groovers flecked with sonic flourishes that are both unexpected and wholly organic. The album kicks off with “Setting the Tone,” a track that is, like most reggae, a mid-tempo, bass-driven jam. But sprinkled with little bits of hi-fi embellishment, the title track shines by virtue of its details. When frontman Eric Iverson throws his backing vocals through an Auto-Tune filter, it’s done with a sense of restraint that’s not only tasteful — it’s downright infectious. Later, “Officer” employs a subtle panning trick to create a heady mix of psychedelic guitar riffs and island-style backbeats. When a snake-like rattle sneaks into the background, we’re reminded of left-of-center dub greats like Lee “Scratch” Perry, and not the beer-swigging, sandal-wearing patrons of Isla Vista. And to hear an S.B. band reclaiming reggae’s roots in such a painstaking, considerate way is perhaps the sweetest ear candy of them all. Soul Majestic plays two back-to-back CD release shows at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club on Saturday, May 17, at 6 and 9 p.m. For tickets and info, call (805) 962-7776 or visit sohosb.com. For more on the band, visit soulmajestic.com.
Setting the Tone