Single Review: Tom Kunzman (18th & Addision) and Steff Reed - "Redemption Song"
(of 18TH & ADDISON)
AND STEFF REED
Growing up in the mid-1990’s punk rock scene, also put me front and center during the punk/ska movement. Inevitably, when you start listening to bands like Sublime and Hepcat, you follow the roots back to reggae; a place where Bob Marley reigns supreme as king! I wore out my copy of Legend, singing along with “Is This Love,” “No Woman No Cry,” and “Stir It Up,” but it was always “Redemption Song” that stood out to me. Its lyrics are very powerful as it speaks of finding your inner strength through adversity and encourages us to free ourselves by unlocking our minds as it reminds us that we hold the key to getting past whatever we are going through – not to mention it’s been covered by (and not limited to) No Use For A Name, Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros, and now Tom Kunzman of 18th & Addison and singer/songwriter, producer extraordinaire, Steff Reed. With each passing generation, “Redemption Song” proves to still carry a much-needed message and the timing for this collaboration couldn’t be more perfect with where the hurting world is at right now. How someone goes about tackling such a legendary song becomes the true question mark, though? Kunzman and Reed do give it a modern kick in their own way by giving it a slicker production and cleaner vocal then that of the original, more stripped-down campfire style of Marley’s. However, to not lose the original intent of the song, they very skillfully keep the lyrics at the forefront of their version and raise up the incredibly motivating words to a degree that it’s not buried and can clearly be understood by all who listen and need an encouraging shoulder. On one hand, Kunzman and Reed honor the legend with a nod of appreciation through one of his most powerful songs. On the other hand, they carefully chose which message of his was most necessary in 2020 and added the right amount of re-created touches so that its power speaks to today’s modern music listener.