Previously published in Island Stage Magazine.
When I was asked to review Nesbeth’s debut album “A.M.E.N.”, an acronym for his late wife’s name Ann Marie Elliot Nesbeth, I was not sure what to expect. I was a big fan of his hit single “My Dream” but was not so impressed by the follow-up singles and was wondering if he was going to be another ‘One hit wonder’. I’m happy to say this album has changed that opinion.
The album was produced by Nesbeth and co-written by Nesbeth and Merrick Shaw. Nesbeth explained the inspiration behind the album “ I was inspired by the Most High….Hopelessness is on the rise. As such, it will further increase if I should stand by and do nothing. As a consequence, A.M.E.N. was conceptualized to inspire the world. The album speaks to struggle, discipline, innovation, love, truth and rights.“
The album is a mix of inspiration, upliftment, social comment and love songs. “Think Rich“, the opening track, carries the message ‘believe in yourself’ with encouraging lyrics like, “If you want big, something you’ve never been, then you haffi do something you never do before. And if you truly believe that the sky’s a di limit, then you haffi take your mind off a di floor“. The second track “Who Can Stop Me Now” continues on the theme and talks about the naysayers and backbiters, and how people become jealous when you start to make it “If God is for us, who can be against us? Who can stop me now?” Nesbeth and Popcaan team up for the next track “Trial”. Not being a fan of the electronic sound and the autotune effect, I have to say this is my least favorite track on the album and probably the one track I would skip. So saying, this is just my personal taste and I’m sure lovers of Dancehall will love it as it’s catchy and well done. Track 4 “A.M.E.N.” is my favorite track on the album. This track made me cry and will affect anyone who has been through the loss of a loved one. It’s a song to Ann Marie. The lyric that broke me was “When it’s over, wake me up“. Listen closely to the lyrics and then say it doesn’t bring a lump to your throat. “Diamond Boy“, track 5, speaks about coming from hardship and poverty and how this hardship toughens you like a diamond, “If pressure make diamond, you can call me the diamond boy“. This is followed by “Success Story” which was the single released after the highly successful “My Dream“. I said in my opening paragraph that I was not impressed by Nesbeth’s follow-up singles to “My Dream” but having now listened to the album several times before writing this review, this track has grown on me. I won’t explain the lyrics but listen carefully as they have a different message than first impressions may give. Track 7, “Trench Town” is the track I was most looking forward to as I am a fan of Agent Sasco. I was not disappointed. It combines the soulful, melodic voice of Nesbeth and the gravelly, hardness of Agent Sasco which conveys the hopelessness but strength of the people of Trench Town. This is followed by “My Dream“, Nesbeth’s highly successful single that shot him into the limelight and which he performed at the swearing-in ceremony of Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Andrew Holness. “Lawn Mower“, track 9, is another particular favorite of mine. This track is about ‘frenemies‘, the friends and sometimes family that, when you come down to it, aren’t as loyal as you thought they were. It’s about clearing the clutter and finding the truth about them. My favorite line on the album is one from this song, “The grass low. I can see all the serpents now“. A poignant song about betrayal. The following track is another collaboration, this time with reggae legend Junior Reid. This is also an encouraging song, promoting self-confidence with the emphasis on not listening to those who try to discourage you. “Emotional Rollercoaster“, track 11, has an infectious beat, impressive lyrics, and clever vocals with the background vocals having an African flavor to them. Track 12, “Reason” is another love song, or more correctly a ‘lost love’ song. This is a song that will be played multiple times by anyone who has had their heart broken and is still asking “Why?” Following this is a different type of love song “Smile“. It’s not about romantic love but the love of those around you and who are there to support you when you are going through the bad times. It is a song about taking one day at a time. “Take it one whole day at a time. Smile“. The final track on the album is “Remove My Enemies” another track about the enemies close to you, the friends and family who want to be someone and are jealous when you become successful. This was the second single released after “My Dream“. I rarely heard this song on the airwaves, which is a shame as I would probably have rated it more if I had heard it more. I always encourage people to purchase the complete album instead of the tracks that initially hit you and this is why. Many times it takes a few listens to really get a song and if you only buy the tracks you like on the first listen, you can miss out on so much.
I am very glad I accepted the opportunity to review “A.M.E.N” as I now have a deep appreciation of the talent of Nesbeth. Nesbeth, you have gained a new fan.