"Ooh Na", by The Upsiders


"Ooh Na", by The Upsiders

Review

Now we are in the heartland of The Upsiders' "Reconnect" project, not only are the cumulative emotions of the arc of protagonist Kenny's journey (back) to meaningful social engagement starting to have ever greater pulls on our own, but the band are also ratcheting up the tension. The first four instalments came out at fortnightly intervals, but having taken Kenny to his lowest point (so  far) in  "21st Century Man", they have left us on tenterhooks for three weeks to learn where he goes next in part five:  "Ooh Na", which they are sharing on Friday.

Thankfully, at least it doesn't get worse for him. A sort of reflective stage, albeit at a low point in his trajectory, the song focuses on his examination of incidents from his past: thankfully perhaps he has retained the self awareness to do this & to try to make sense of where he is, rather than to surrender to despair: and no doubt that is a very key message from the Upsiders for whom this ambitious song cycle is so important & one they clearly wish to share with their public in a manner which does has genuine beneficial effect.

Musically as well as conceptually the series is stretching the band (I'm sure they see this as much a positive as I do) & while a dozen songs of wildly differing styles could drive the project to the brink of incoherence, they are obviously enjoying the chance to explore different genres in their playing & each switch does provide new emphasis to the evolving storyline.

"Ooh Na" is a beautiful Caribbean tinged song with the often intense lyrics & singing being set against an arrangement which blends a variety of styles from the region: calypso, mento, reggae etc. Such a juxtaposition often adds greater effect (as it does here) but must surely be a strategy adopted with caution and taste in order to work & not sabotage the intended message with inappropriate music. The Upsiders here adopt a very light, you might say delicate instrumental touch and as I say, the impassioned singing therefore sits very prominently on top.

As Kenny looks back, one wonders: will the memories he accesses just drive the knife in deeper or empower him to move forward? Only time will tell..... In the meantime, why not check out the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMm9lrJtfJc&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1wbVFrOxh2DX6r0ED6tOH5GHlwL0lK5K1r02CBs_z75jFhCCHnd3SjFrs

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