Album Review: Garrison Hawk – Adrenaline

Before going solo under his name, Garrison Hawk gained acclaim collaborating with artists like Tricky and Sly & Robbie under the pseudonym Hawkman. Working in various genres led the Jamaican-born artist back to his reggae and dancehall roots for his latest album, The Adrenaline. A mix of dance floor-ready jams, seductive burners and socially conscious rally cries, the album invokes the spirit and power of what made reggae a world-changing force.

The album smartly opens with a trio of dancehall bangers. “Party Time” has a smooth, summery flow, and pairs perfectly with the soca vibes of “Wine Pan a Ting”, which turns up the heat and would certainly play well at any club. There’s a familiarity to the sound of both these tracks, but on “Good Girls Love Bad Guys”, Hawk gets to showoff his versatility as a vocalist and songwriter, hooking us in with the pop melody and then changing tempos and rhythms numerous times through the song, taking unexpected but welcome left turns to keep things interesting. The party picks up later with the celebratory “Draw Me Out”, and the Beenie Man-assisted “Gal Have Wants”, which adds in some Afrobeat influences to close out the album on a high note.

Hawk gets more soulful on “Dream of Life”, an intimate track which sounds made for the time of night once you’ve found yourself a partner at the club and want to take them home. “Turn on Twist” also has romantic aspirations (“When you love a woman you ‘an marry her twice”), but has a silky, R&B feel to it. Less successful is “Pretty Pussycat”, which comes across more disturbing than sexy.

Hawk shows his substantive side on “Humanity (Solidarity)”, an indictment of the current economic and political systems that have helped build the prison industrial complex (“we do the crime but the system organize it”). There’s an equal urgency on the hard-hitting “Dem Want to Avenger Me”, and the deeper roots-reggae “Fear of Threat”. There’s a long history of reggae artists using their platform to speak truth to power about the issues that affect, so it’s great to hear this tradition carried on here.

Garrison Hawk proves himself a reggae artist for all seasons on Adrenaline. Strong vocals and crisp production give the album a modern sound, even as he reaches back in time for inspiration. Take a listen to the album here.

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