Project Mama Earth

Project Mama Earth

(Provogue Records/Mascot Label Group)

This release really has an interesting list of participants – Joss Stone, Nitin Sawhney, Jonathan Joseph, Etienne M’Bappe, Jonathan Shorten. I really liked a previous gathering including Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart and called SuperHeavy but how does this fare? It’s a kind of suite with interludes. Based on a sort of leap in the dark without long-term preparation, the music relies on the instinct and skills of the players and singers. Drummer Joseph was particularly keen to work with Stone – who wouldn’t be?? – and M’Bappe is principally bassist here but plays other instruments. Stone kept clear of the music creation to save herself for the lyrics composition and singing, the broad theme being Mother Nature. Enough scene-setting, on to the sonic content….

Mama Earth kicks the set of with a busy and springheeled African tempo with Stone singing with a little reserve, for pacing til the chorus which really does swing, slivers of horns peppering the sound. Very cool bass and muted-palm guitar flicks evoking Mali music, for me. Of course, this all relies on a crisp drummer and Joseph is this, for sure. A pastoral segment lightens the mood and loosens the tempo before the original tempo returns, battering away. A lively paean to the planet.

Interlude 1 uses talking drum and sparse melodica. It’s like travelogue music. Then Waterfall with its soft cadence and dreamy vibe. ”Wake Me up..” breathes Joss and it does have start-of-day atmosphere. The pacing is is little stiff as if the players are temporarily unsure of themselves, Nile Rodgers where are you when we need you? The soul vocal is characteristically awesome. That nagging beat doesn’t quite gel for me on this one. Interlude 2 goes for shadowy violin over loping percussion and then we have Spring which softly stabs its way into hearing, the precise and busy drumming carrying the whole arrangement along. The singing captures the intended coming-to-life mood of the piece. The vocal is like a breeze blowing through rushes and quite lovely. Nobody quite floats a phrase like Joss Stone. The horns here remind me of Al Jarreau.

Interlude 3 starts with solemn jungle drumming conjuring up a hunting party, somehow. What Would She Say? is set to jazzy guitar chording and back-alley bass and of course this sort of Mayfield backdrop prompts a slinky contribution from Stone. What a duet with Erykah Badhu THIS would make! Interlude 4 sounds a little lost, like a glass collector doing a round on the pub verandah. Entanglement is insistent and rootsy with fine chattering guitar and the percussion treated sparingly to the song’s benefit. It’s a pent-up sound, waiting to be unleashed. Interlude 5 sprinkles us with clear acoustic guitar and birdsong and just a hint of John Barry. You can’t fool me, Nithin! Breathe is as organic a melody and shuffling beat as you could get, The lyric seems to celebrate the elements and the mix has a gentle easy motion steeped in sensuality.

The record has a mood of its own and I dare say the same crew could do a sound cityscape with equal aplomb. Emphatically, nobody here tries to steal the show, which does make change!!!

Pete Sargeant


(Thanks to the Mascot crew)

You can watch the official music video for ‘Mama Earth’ in this article.

Project Mama Earth’s self-titled debut album is out now on Provogue Records/Mascot Label Group.

To purchase the album and for more information visit the band’s page on Mascot Label Group’s website here:

Project Mama Earth