What is a pop music record label executive to do when a rock artist says he has always wanted to make a reggae record? When that songwriter has written absolute gems like “Table Talk” and “I Don’t Wanna Jam With You” over four brilliant full-lengths, then you let What is a pop music record label executive to do when a rock artist says he has always wanted to make a reggae record? When that songwriter has written absolute gems like “Table Talk” and “I Don’t Wanna Jam With You” over four brilliant full-lengths under the moniker of Okay Lindon, then you let Dustin Smith do whatever he wants.
Smith explains the detour of sonic direction, ”In last couple years, I've become more interested in spirituality and social activism- and reggae has just an endless well of content on those subjects. Hearing the music through the perspective of an oppressed people wanting to return to their home in Africa, learning about Salassie and some of the history surrounding the culture provides a lot more depth to the listening. It would be silly to say I can relate to what those people have gone through, but the spiritual aspects of their music, the crying out for peace and social justice really resonate with me right now. It's art with a big message and higher purpose and I can really get behind that.”
“Participation” is the realization of a dream from Okay Lindon’s principal songwriter. “I first really got into reggae around Christmas of 2011. I had a some time at home off work and immediately wrote some reggae demos. They really sucked, and that was that. Every winter for a few years after that I'd go on a reggae deep dive. Albums from the early ‘80s from Nighthawk Records really got my attention around 2016 and really have been the majority of what I listen to. There's about four or five CDs that haven't left my passenger seat for three or four years. It was natural that I’d try to revisit that with my own songwriting. I had a major breakthrough last spring, reworked some of my old demos from 2011 and wrote a bunch of new songs.”
Accompanied by the sweet voice and violin of Erica Beimesche, the subtle but complicated drumming of Jordan Elam, and the percussive keyboards of Andrew McEwen, this version of Okay Lindon is nothing of what you expect but everything that you want from a reggae record as well as an Okay Lindon record.
“I'm still influenced by artists like Starflyer and Swervedriver the same as I used to be”, Smith reminds us. “I think those influences sneak in the new songs too. Rather than a reggae record, I hope my end product was another Okay Lindon record- with obvious nods to reggae and maybe not-so-so obvious nods to the things I used to aim for when I wrote music.”
“Participation” is beautiful, political, melodic, honest, and in control- and it is out now from Poptek Records.
OKAY LINDON/ Dustin Smith- vocals, guitars, bass. Erica Beimesche- vocals, violin. Jordan Elam- drums. Andrew McEwen- keyboards.