Mishka’s Third Album Strikes an Emotional Chord With acoustic roots and a Deep Reggae Groove
Mishka’s biography has an almost cinematic sweep. He spent most of his early life on a boat in the Caribbean, sailing from island to island with his seafaring parents and older sisters. A child of the islands, it was almost inevitable that he’d be drawn to reggae, Rastafari, and the natural mystic that inhabits his music and his soul. Above The Bones is his third album and the debut release for Matthew McConaughey’s j. k. livin label.
“The music I heard growing up from my parents, sisters and the places we visited gave me a lot of musical and cultural flexibility.” “Everything I’ve ever heard blends together in what I do.” “I’m a huge reggae fan but there’s folk, soul, rock and other elements in the music.”
Mishka’s international outlook is a product of his unique upbringing. “My parents met in Bermuda” Mishka explains. “They always had dreams of living at sea and my father built a boat for the family to live on. I moved onto the boat when I was three.”
“We sailed all over the Atlantic and Caribbean” Mishka recalls. “We visited Brazil, all the Caribbean islands, even made a cross-Atlantic trip to Portugal and England.” Mishka and his sisters were home schooled until they went to boarding school for their higher education. “Learning how to read maps and chart a course was my math and geography class, going ashore in different countries and talking to people about their culture was my history class, reading books on board was my literary education, picking up French and Portuguese in the ports we visited was my language school.”
The boat had a small battery run cassette player and Mishka heard the music his parents loved: The Beatles, Jimmy Cliff, Dylan and Jimmy Buffett who was sailing the same waters as his family in those days. “My sisters turned me on to the Police, Cars and Roxy Music, but when I heard Burning Spear, Culture, and Bob Marley, I got addicted to roots reggae.”
Mishka moved to London and his debut, the self-titled Mishka, became a Top 40 hit in England. “Give You All the Love” cracked the charts in Britain and Japan where it went Top 10. While he was making Mishka, Swedish producer Martin Terefe (KT Tunstall, James Morrison) was working in the studio next door. Terefe produced Mishka’s second album, 2005’s One Tree, a blend of electronica, folk and reggae. While on tour, Mishka met Darryl Thompson a long time guitarist for Sly & Robbie. They were working on Above the Bones when Matthew McConaughey showed up and signed Mishka to his new label j. k. livin.
Mishka’s varied musical interests are evident on Above the Bones but his vocals may be the most captivating element of the album. His striking tenor is mellow and intense with a bluesy quality that gives every word an aching intensity. It’s a timeless voice, the familiar sound of a friend you’ve always known but never met.
“Higher Heights” opens the album with a roots reggae vibe. It’s a song of empowerment and encouragement to people who want to see more love and unity in the world, an invitation to let our better nature shine and heal the troubled world we live in. “3rd Eye Vision” is a rock steady groove. It’s a prayer for the planet that urges us to live in harmony with the earth and find peace of mind amidst a system that often forces us to be hypocritical to ourselves. “Peace and Love” is a simple three chord celebration of eternal values. Mishka’s vocal is full of sweet soulful fire. The title track for the album is essentially a folk song about honoring our ancestors, their memories, their tribulations and their joys and translating that into a prayer for the living.
Other stand out tracks include “Coastline Journey” with laid back conga lines and surfer style guitar licks this one is essentially a love song for the ocean; “Mountains Meet the Sea” a tender rock ballad and “Train Again” a tune that brings to mind the early Wailers with its funky Clavinet and rock guitar leads also features vocals by dancehall artist Lyrical Don.
The album started as an independent project produced by Mishka and Guitarist Darryl Thompson but was finished with the creative assistance of Matthew McConaughey. It was essentially tracked live with minimal overdubs. “Darryl has played for many years with Peter Tosh and Black Uhuru, but he has a background mainly in rock and blues” Mishka says of Darryl. “He could hear the folk, soul and reggae in the music and really helped bring the songs to life”. “Matthew (McConaughey) has a good ear for picking out the best elements of a song and really brought his positive energy and enthusiasm to the studio.”
With an album that fully realizes his multifaceted musical vision, Mishka and his band will take to the road, sharing his positive vibrations and his global musical vision with fans old and new.
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