Fans of the Madison, Wisconsin-based collective Natty Nation have been anticipating a new album since the group whet their appetite in 2010 with the emotive and anthemic single, “Suffice.” The song was the first new track since the group’s highly acclaimed 2008 album, Reincarnation. On March 11th, Natty Nation will release Divine Spark (iNatty Records). The album represents epiphanic spiritual and artistic journeys. It was mixed entirely by legendary Bob Marley recording engineer Errol Brown, and features a seething guest verse from acclaimed South Side, Chicago-via-Madison rapper F. Stokes.
“This release is inspired by the physical and invisible forces of the divine within all mankind. The divine spark is the higher self within everyone,” explains frontman JAH Boogie. “I’ve learned that through raising your vibration, and opening your chakras, you are able to tap into your divine spark. Our music is for the mental, spiritual and physical expansion of the human family. We are spiritual individuals who express our spirituality through the frequencies and tones of the music that we play.”
Since its inception in 1995, Natty Nation has issued five award-winning and chart-topping studio albums along with a string of epiphanic live albums. The group describes themselves as hard roots rock reggae & dub because of their embrace of soul, rock, and funk. In addition to their honest and authentic roots reggae foundation, Natty Nation is influenced by such diverse geniuses as Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, Living Colour, Earth Wind and Fire, Fishbone, and Bad Brains. Natty Nation has a fluid membership of esteemed and visionary musicians. Currently, Natty Nation is led by JAH Boogie – bass & lead vocals (also percussion & drums in the studio), and musical director Aaron Konkol – keyboards, vocals, & melodica. The collective also features mainstays Richard Hildner – guitar, and Olen Franklin – drums, as well as frequent players Francisco Martinez – percussion and vocals, Mike Daum – guitar, Harjinder Singh – guitar and vocals, Eric Kummer – drums, and Louka Patenaude – guitar.
Central to the group’s popularity are its epic live shows, which—because of the collective’s telepathic band interplay, and colorful palette of musical influences—make for a fresh freewheeling reggae focused experience. Select live career highlights include performing at SXSW, Summerfest, Freakfest, and as well as throughout the Middle East, Africa, Japan, and the quickly disappearing Marshall Islands.
Initial tracking for the album began in 2010 at the band’s home studio. Through the next six years the band worked in spurts on the album, taking time away to get fresh ears and also to be sure the collection of songs would be one of the group’s finest. “This is the first time Aaron and I wrote all of the songs together for an album since he entered the band in 2002,” JAH Boogie reveals. “This is definitely a step up in songwriting, production, and overall vibe.”
Highlights on Divine Spark include the title track, “Meditation,” “Civil Rights,” and “Prophecy.” The album’s spiritual core is the simmering and soulful title track. “This song deals with the spiritual essence of each human being,” JAH Boogie explains. “The song also expresses that when you open your heart chakra it helps to open up the many other chakras within the spiritual body. When these energy centers or chakras are open then many other dimensions are open as well.” “Meditation” aptly conjures its name with sweetly languid grooves. Soul rebel militancy bubbles over with the self-explanatory “Civil Rights” courtesy of F. Stokes’s fiery rhymes. And the rousing “Prophecy” is sure to inspire self-reflection. “This song deals with going within yourself to find out who you really are or what you really are. We all have spiritual guides or angels who reveal certain things to us,” explains JAH Boogie.
Errol Brown (Bob Marley, Gregory Isaacs, Burning Spear, among others) mixed the album on his makeshift studio he built in the back of Rebelution’s tour bus. At the time of mixing Divine Spark, Errol was doing live sound for Rebelution. He came into the picture after Aaron Konkol attended a Rebelution show, and discovered he was the engineer behind the band’s pristine live sound. Errol worked humbly and consistently with Aaron to fully realize the elusive sound Natty Nation envisioned for Divine Spark.
Divine Spark marks the beginning of an era of fevered creativity and watershed output for Natty Nation. The band plans to spread the joy, uplift the people, and share these future classics on the road imminently.