Cressy Jaw (left to right: Basti, Alex, and Arne) photo by Christian Buseck
A Fire On The Inside is the debut album of reggae-rock/alternative trio, Cressy Jaw.
We know Cressy Jaw as I met lead singer and guitarist, Alex, while studying in California. We later met the other band members, Basti (bass and vocals) and Arne (drums and vocals) when we supported them at a show in their hometown Giessen, Germany back in 2015.
Cressy Jaw aren’t afraid to rebel against the establishment through their music, with their songs telling honest stories about the harsh reality of the world we live in. They use their music as a vehicle for social change with their politically-charged lyrics and emotive delivery. Their quest for social change goes beyond their music with the band collecting signatures on behalf of Oxfam for their campaign: Make Fruit Fair. Indeed, Cressy Jaw force their listeners to open their eyes by igniting a fire inside them and a burning desire to join them in their efforts.
They’re a fantastic band to see live so we were excited to hear their debut album.
What can you expect from the album?
Inspired by bands such as Rage Against the Machine and Pearl Jam, Cressy Jaw have delivered a part reggae, part alternative-rock album, with their sound reminiscent of bands such as State Radio, SOJA and Stick Figure. It’s clear they put a lot of heart into the instrumentation to accompany their hard-hitting lyrics.
Cressy Jaw don’t shy away from tackling political topics such as consequences of war, government failures, and our impact on the environment. Their words have a pleading essence as they dive into issues from across the world, from the consequences of consumerism and the devastating refugee crisis. From the first line of their opening track Pachamama, “Oh we forgot we are sucking dry our only land”, they have our attention.
It’s no easy feat to sing about these topics in a way that inspires listens to take action instead of burying their heads in the sand, but I think that Cressy Jaw pulled it off.
We enjoyed each song for different reasons, but here’s a rundown of a couple of our favourites.
As we mentioned, they caught our attention from the opening track Pachamama; a reference to the Goddess of nature of the indigenous people of the Andes. Cressy Jaw unapologetically raise the issue of consumerism and its contribution to destroying our “only land”. The lyrics are poignant and very relevant considering America voted in a president who believes that global warming is a conspiracy.
Musically, the song is a blend of genres, starting off with a bluesy style riff, that instantly brought to mind The Black Keys. It then transforms into a reggae-style record, reminiscent of The Police and Groundation. The bass is satisfyingly heavy, with the falsetto harmony gently complementing the raspy vocals.
Cressy Jaw released I.M.C as a single and it’s clear why: it’s a powerful track delving into atrocities and injustices reported on the news, with its key message being that we need to reflect on and learn from the past.
In fact, they cite this as being a core track on the album that is one of the most important and emotional songs that they frequently end their gigs on.
As the bass and drums weave around each other in the intro, you get the sense that you are being taken on a journey that is misleadingly optimistic. Once they reach the chorus any hope of optimism is dispelled with the words "This world collapses right in front of our eyes". But, hope quickly brought back with "There is this fire I feel that keeps us alive", a reference to people standing up to make the world a better place.
Yet, despite the lyrics, this song is uplifting, in part, due to their creative instrumentation and vocal embellishments. As the breakdown builds up gradually, while repeating the lyrics “we’re too afraid to look at the past”, the sense of desperation and frustration in Alex’s voice is evident and increases with each repetition.
As you know, we’re fans of artists who use their music to draw attention to and bring about change with regards to social, political, and environmental issues. Other stand-out songs for us included Trains of Hope, Running All My Life, and Silver Shadow.
Cressy Jaw’s debut album A Fire On The Inside is well-worth listening to even if you’re not a fan of their genre; their lyrics will certainly get you thinking. The reggae rhythms and melodies are catchy, and their ability to create such a political album that is hard-hitting, yet, simultaneously easy to listen to is admirable.
A Fire On The Inside is available to stream and download on all major platforms.