Label: VP Records
Genre: Roots Reggae
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Realistically, whenever a newly issued album is released by any group or recording artiste, people are twitchy to hear what it's like. Will it be amazing? Should you expect your ears to feel insensitive from overproduced beats? Or will it lack originality and reflect an artiste's desire to earn money more than taking the time out to admire the art of music? Better Tomorrow, Etana's third studio album, can officially be considered her most confident and relaxed release to date which may be exactly what she is missing to cement her as one of the biggest Reggae superstars in recent times.
The album strengths:
Etana's maturity – She has come a long way from 'Wrong Address'. Now her lyrical content seems to stem more on the basis of relationships and its ups and downs with a few hints of social commentary along the way.
Etana's inimitable vocals – While she's known for her jaw-dropping live vocal range, Better Tomorrow's main intentions indicate to emphasize just how well Etana can control her powerful chords. From driving the confines of her vocal abilities in 'Til You Get Old' to being reminisced of old styles in 'Silly', the album produces a cohesively pure choral range.
Etana tugs on your emotions: The Strong One amazed with remarkable singles while Free Expressions gave light to aspiration-led smooth sounds but Better Tomorrow showcases more of an emotional appeal. The desire of love and the ideology of being wanted pull from every angle, making roots of pure bliss and glee.
The album weakness:
For the most part fans will be appreciative of Etana's lioness roars on a new album, but it falls too intensely on ballads and less attitude-driven, rebellious-chanting that they have become expecting of Etana.
Using live instruments on any album automatically gives you an authentic feel to the production. With a driving one-drop bassline throughout most tracks paired with a dominant snare drum stroke (hitting a rimshot), Etana's team of producers stitched together an inventive, thriller of a rollercoaster ride. The best way to describe it would be: a track possibly will commence with that authentic Reggae feel, continue to a verse which toggles into an astonishing pre-chorus, advancing to you tapping your feet and snapping your fingers on the chorus and ending with a hypnotic experience of fulfilment.
Lyrical Content/Themes: Throughout the album Etana hurdles the largest topics that revolves her heart; love, life's blessings, undying strength and even "a dose of Bob Marley, some shell from the high tree with some marijuana breeze". Etana seems nearly mentally determined to go all out, lyrically and vocally, as her blood, sweat and tears can be heard being oozed through every track.
Choruses: Etana seems to know how to write a perfect hook/chorus for any track. From her hypnotising harmonies to the vocal layering, Etana proves that in an era where artistes are coping and passing each other's vocal styles around, she's ahead of the pack inspiring everyone along the way.
Appeal/ Fan Likability: Breaking the mould as to what is thought of as normality within the industry – over producing and under delivering – Etana certainly attains this while displaying her vocal maturity and lyrical evolution. If you're looking for a Reggae album, that stays true to Reggae origins, (that is sure to give you that Spring edge), this is a great suggestion. Fans may find the album to be quite a fascinating masterpiece of Etana being Etana while others may view it as her being the most comfortable with the vision she had for the album – to have it feel as though you're seated at a concert seeing her perform the songs.
Final Impressions: Music Vibes: 9/10 Lyric Vibes: 9.5/10 Vocal Consistency: 10/10TOTAL Vibes: 9.5/10
Of course after spinning this album a few times you'd want to listen to its predecessors, The Strong One and Free Expressions, and if this album provides the impetus for doing so, then Etana has done her job. Those listeners, who are already Roots Reggae fans and familiar with Etana's work, should run…not walk, to pick up this album. With her new album, Etana both pays homage to the early eras of Reggae music and demonstrates how those lyrics, melodies and production still resounds and grasps the world today.
Standout Tracks: All I Need, Reggae, Til You Get Old, Better Tomorrow
All I Need
Whole New World
4 Play 2 Love (Start Over)
Til You Get Old
Be Ok (Interlude)