Review Summary: Short and Sweet.
If you’ve ever taken a boat ride on a warm sunny day in the middle of summer, you may very well understand the true meaning of relaxation. Nonchalantly drifting along in the middle of the water, just going wherever the current may take you. Taking time just to enjoy the weather with a few friends can be really peaceful. It’s like your own little world, hidden away in the water, and no one can disturb you. Mishka Frith was raised on the ocean. He grew up on his parent’s sailboat and traveled from island to island across the West Indies. Over his rather unorthodox childhood he became accustomed with music and 2005 he would release One Tree, his sophomore album.
Though One Tree only accommodates eight tracks, every song within is solid and could stand alone as a single. The album abstains from complex song efforts and offbeat tempos. On One Tree, simplicity is the key element. The most multifarious element on the album is the addition of an electric guitar in one or two tracks. The music never really strays far from vocals, acoustics, and smooth drum machine. Mishka really doesn’t need much else to get his message across. Similar to other modern day reggae artists like Michael Franti and the Beautiful Girls, the music is simple and the message is clear. Just by looking at the song titles I’m sure you could figure out what the chorus is going to sound like. Nevertheless, Mishka pulls all of these elements together well to create his own unique niche in the reggae facility. Luckily for him, he has enough talent to propel the listener through what could have been a complete snooze fest.
Right from the start, One Tree’s message is clear. The title track is a call to unite the peaceful, namedropping all seven continents and explaining that we are all children of mother earth. Unsurprisingly, it’s something we’ve heard before, but the clever words and intricate guitar riffs keep us hooked. Religion, race, and the whole shebang is discussed, unsurprisingly. Like Mishka is keeping up a devoted John Lennon obsession, he cries for peace and love throughout the world. For some, this may be annoying and unrealistic, but if it’s in your taste, One Tree is a lovely addition to your world peace archive. One of the album’s real treasures is No Need to Worry. This track includes one of the best guitar riffs I have ever heard. Not because it is incredibly skillful, not because it is ridiculously fast, but because it is passionate and intricate and sends ripple through your mind. In a way comparable to Bob Marley’s own Redemption Song, No Need to Worry caresses the listener to free their spirit and mind. It is such a blissful moment. Rock With Me is a straight-up roots reggae jam, and at times Mishka’s voice sounds almost identical to that of reggae legend Bob Marley. I’m not saying he’s purposely impersonating Marley trying to ride the tails of his successes, but it is strange at times just how similar they really are. Could there possibly be a new Marley in the making?
However, even with all of the free, peaceful tracks, the album does take on an austere mood with In A Serious Way. With a cool tone and a sly beat, Mishka’s passion once again pushes through a track that could have possibly been a trainwreck. He proves in his execution that he can turn questionable lyrics into a solid song. While still on a downcast note, the album closes with the lustful Sometimes the Ones, an ode to those who have lost loved ones or are separated from those they wish to see. Again, passionate in his delivery, Mishka’s confidence in his voice and ability to hold a note perfectly helps the track develop. The album concludes with Dust Your Blood, an instrumental dub. The rolling bass line and drums aid the occasional guitar lick, slowly fading out into an abyss of nothingness.
For being born on a boat and seemingly secluded from society for most of his life, Mishka delivers a prevalent message to all listeners, old and young. The themes could apply to any time and place, and are beautifully executed to perfection. If there were more than seven tracks of equal quality, I would rate One Tree a classic without hesitation. Even with the short track listing, I dare say few listeners would be disappointed with this release. The resemblance to Bob Marley at some points in the album are frighteningly delightful. Once again, Mishka's delivery and confidence in his musical capability help him execute roots reggae in a way it should be done. This is a perfect summer album, euphoric on sunny days and warm weather. Solid in every aspect, One Tree perfectly takes the listener away to a blissful state.