Kirsty Rock, best known around the world as a member of the internationally renowned reggae super group Easy Star All-Stars, brings the fire with her own distinctive, soulful, and earthy reggae sound on her solo album debut, Slow Burn, out now on Easy Star Records. The release coincides with an official video release of the title track, which was a collaboration between acrobatic dancer Julia Baccellier, Rock, and Rock’s long standing collaborator D888. Rock says about the video: “The visuals and movements are an unveiling in which we accentuate the beauty of that journey – vulnerability, a shedding, and in finality, empowerment. It’s a personal journey with a universal message.”
Kirsty Rock came up in the Brooklyn music scene of the 1990s, including her celebrated stint in Trumystic Sound System (at one time, this band included Dr. Israel as a member and collaborator). Her first lead vocal with Easy Star All-Stars was on their 2003 album Dub Side of the Moon, performing “The Great Gig In The Sky,” which has garnered millions of streams, and earned praise from Clare Torry, the original vocalist on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. In 2003, she joined the touring version of Easy Star All-Stars and since then has toured in over 30 countries on 6 continents with the band. She was featured on vocals on their studio albums Radiodread (“Paranoid Android,” 2006), Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band (“She’s Leaving Home,” 2009), and Easy Star’s Thrillah (“P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing),” 2012), as well as on First Light, the band’s album of original songs from 2008. Rock is currently back on the road with ESA after a COVID hiatus, while there is a new record due from the band for the first time since 2012.
The first single “The Feeling” may appear to be the most lighthearted song on the album, it “was the most difficult and cathartic to write,” Rock recently said. “It’s a reminder to myself that when we release grief, sorrow, pain, and anger, it leaves so much room for love and joy.” Her next single, “L.E.O.” pulses with a steady bass groove and slapping drums that draws you in with Rock’s lyrics: “The space between us pulls me in with thoughts darker than your skin. It’s incredible. Burn my solar wings and carry me towards L.E.O.”
Many of the songs on Slow Burn were started on the road with Easy Star All-Stars and with her own long-running band Trumystic, as Rock often found inspiration while in motion. With a busy tour schedule, no intention to be a solo artist, and no rush to put out “product,” she left all expectations behind and let the songs evolve. Observing how relationships unfolded and how political agendas came and went – and what was left in their wake – inspired much of the lyrical content of the record. After the bones of the songs were recorded in her home in Vermont, Rock began reaching out to her friends to breathe more life into the fire until finally the record was ablaze.
The first few tracks completed were co-produced and mixed by Grammy-nominated producer (and longtime friend and collaborator) Matt Stein (Method Man & Redman, DMX, Jason Mraz, Bill Laswell, Blondie). The rest of the album brought in many of Rock’s closest collaborators in Easy Star All-Stars, including guitarist/vocalist Shelton Garner Jr. (who co-produced some of the songs), keyboardist/vocalist Elenna Canlas (who also co-produced the title track, while co-writing and performing on others), drummers Ivan Katz and Cliff Simpson, and the horn section of Jennifer Hill, Buford O’Sullivan, and Matt Bauder. Keyboardist Matt Goodwin – also a member of The Movement – sat in on some sessions, while bassist Nate Edgar of John Brown’s Body and The Nth Power, also laid down grooves. Easy Star All-Stars bassist Ras Droppa is a featured vocalist and bassist on the track “It’s Not The Same.” Other reggae veteran horn players, including Pam Fleming (Burning Brass), Anant Pradhan, and Billy Aukstick also contributed. As you can see, Rock really did call on her extended musical family to finish this labor of love.
Slow Burn is a stunning “debut” for Kirsty Rock. She is already at work on new songs and looking forward to bringing this music on the road with both ESA and on her own in the coming year.