Reggae singer Tarrus Riley had a number of projects on his plate when the COVID-19 pandemic hit earlier this year.
Undaunted, the She’s Royal singer used the opportunity to pivot, focus his attention on other aspects of his musical career and personal life. But he quickly realised that the pandemic was having an effect on almost every aspect of human life and existence and so he put everything on hold to pull together an album with music that plays like a COVID-19 soundtrack.
The artiste shared The Healing in a special virtual listening session with journalists on Thursday. The project becomes available on August 28.
From the title track Riley expressed that the global shutdown due to the pandemic forced him into all kinds of thoughts, hence the themes explored and subject matter of the lyrics.
Riley and his team capture some of the searing thoughts and feelings about the global health crisis in tracks such as The Great Equaliser, and Babylon Warfare, two tracks which look into the social, economic and political effects of COVID-19.
The personal effects on interpersonal relationships are shared in Connect Again. This track which features long-time collaborator Konshens, and is described by Riley as the ‘girl tune’ of the album. The Riley/Konshens hit Good Girl Gone Bad still remains a favourite. This track again highlights their chemistry.
The racial tensions in the United States and the Black Lives Matter movement are also injected into this musical account of the times. Riley provides a cover of Poor Immigrants, a track previously recorded by his late father Jimmy Riley.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Riley does provide a respite and moments of gratitude and redemption in tracks such as Blessings, the prayerful Remember Me and the uplifting and resolute My Fire.
Popular artistes Dexta Daps and Teejay also make appearances on The Healing.
“What I want my fans to take away from The Healing is just to give thanks. One of the things this time has shown us is that we should not take anything for granted. I could have been doing a number of other things, but I stopped to provide this project… something coming from my heart,” said Riley.
Produced by his musical director, saxophonist Dean Fraser, and long-time collaborator Shane Brown, The Healing could stand as a historical document in years to come, having captured the mood and feel of people in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.