Chris DeLine

Cedar Rapids, IA

H.R. “We Belong Together”

Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: .

The sole difference between H.R.’s latest album, Hey Wella, and Bad Brains’ 2007 release, Build A Nation, is that unlike the glossy surface provided by Adam Yauch, Hey Wella has a level of production value that lands it somewhere closer to a time when Bad Brains were in their prime (for the sake of discussion, let’s say 1986). Both albums sway between reggae and the post-hardcore DC punk that Bad Brains carried on throughout the late ’80s and early ’90s, but Hey Wella is kind of like Build A Nation’s stoner friend who is perfectly content with the music as long as it “feels organic, bro.”

However, that’s not a complete depiction of the album. One of the standouts is “We Belong Together,” a track that teases an easy-skankin’ guitar riff, but blends in deeper tones and a much slower groove into a unique package that is in great contrast with everything else on the record. It’s clearly a love song at its core, but serves equally well as a lazy, late-afternoon jam that quenches a bit of the thirst created by the dry, stuffy reggae that occupies much of the rest of Hey Wella.

Though it’s not exactly brilliant, and hardly a departure from the sound of H.R.’s past, it’s a step in the right direction in terms of branching out from the heaping load of back-catalog that the vocalist has already recorded (aside from Bad Brains, this is H.R.’s 10th proper solo studio album). And seeing as though it’s the first record of a seven-album deal he signed a few years back with D.C.’s Hardcore LLC label, let’s hope it’s just the start of a new chapter in H.R.’s career. After all, the world hardly needs another uninspired collection of tracks casually praising Jah over the same “one love” beat.

[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]