For over 10 years Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad have been turning out some of highest quality roots reggae this side of the American border. However, their musical interests have led them down a different path for their new album Country – an acoustic country album. Such a shift in style might raise some eyebrows, but once you listen you can quickly tell that this was a move born out of pure inspiration.

It’s been a long road for Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad – they’ve traveled thousands of miles on the road, weathered multiple line up changes – but through it all they’ve grounded themselves in their music, fostering a style that is completely their own. On Country they’ve made an album that deviates from their usual sound, but it’s quality is proof positive for the value in following your muse.

One of the first things you notice about songs on Country like single “Far Away” is how effortless they sound. This is not a band forcing something new things upon themselves in an attempt to be different, it’s the sound of a group of musicians developing together and having fun trying something new. As the liner notes to Country attest:

“The recording of this album was the most natural experience that we’ve ever had making music together. All of our songs are born on acoustic guitars. We play them for comfort and we play them for joy… We’re so happy to present this experience to you in a way that will keep for eternity… We are the product of our environment and the times we are living through. We are in this together. Love you forever. Forever grateful…”

“Far Away” is an easy going, yet wistful, look at distant relationships. As a band often on the road, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad have surely had their fair share of them, and they astutely pin-point the conflicting emotions of joy, longing, frustration and hope that comes with being far from the one you love. “Go where you want to go,” they sing together, “As long as you come back home.”

℗ 2011 Controlled Substance Sound lab

Related: Country album review on StreetDate 

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