It may sound somewhat contradictory, but after 2012's 'Croisades', 'Chapter One' is in fact Tony Nephtali second long player to date.
Nephtali is a French reggae artist from the Fensch valley in the French Moselle region. Tony claims he had trouble finding a suitable title for this new album, so Delphine (Chupin), Nephtali's regular music partner, suggested the simple 'Chapter One' (immediately leaving an opening for more chapters to follow).
Tony caught the music virus at a very young age, as from the age of nine he got under the spell of rock bands like AC/DC, Nirvana and Guns N' Roses. Those rock influences would never fully disappear and on 'Chapter One' are still clearly audible in tracks like 'Bachawarria', 'Give Us' or 'Burn'. At the age of eleven, Nephtali got his first guitar and at school he crossed paths with Clement Ponsart, budding drummer, and, together with a number of like-minded friends (including bass player and guitarist Rémi 'Rem's' Castelotto), the duo soon founded rock band Garden Of Roses. As they switched to lyceum, Tony and Rem's started getting into to spiritual, soon leading them into the universe of reggae. Sebastien Leban (guitar) joined the ranks and together they formed the acoustic trio 'Acoustic From Zion' (later expanded to a quintet).
After a four year stint the project started to disintegrate and Tony started to focus on a solo career, doing reggae-hip-hop crossover songs like 'Flashback' or 'Incorruptibles'. In 2010, together with Rem's, he returned to his acoustic repertoire, and during a mini tour in Italy the duo met up with Jonathan Remillon (keyboards), Nicolas Gross (guitar) and Julien 'Uj' Cernec (bass) from the French ska-formation ZamalSka, together with Louis Verrone, ex-drummer with Métisse, another reggae band from the Moselle region. From that chance meeting, the 57 Roots Band would soon sprout, mostly serving as Tony's backing band during live performances.
In 2012 the aforementioned 'Croisades' debut album followed, but soon after its release, the different band members went their separate ways again. Just before that split, however, Nephtali had met Delphine Chupin; the start of a musical collaboration that continues to this day.
From the ashes of the 57 Roots Band the Hotta Faya Band arose, but as a duo, Delphine and Tony participated in the 2013 edition of the Benelux Reggae Contest, and even made it to the finals. A 5 track self-titled EP followed in the spring of 2014, but soon after Delphine embarked on a solo career and for a while Tony mainly focused on the release of her debut album 'Blue Soul', which saw the light of day in 2017.
Flash forward to 2018, and Tony finally returns to the studio to record this second solo album, recorded with Clair 'Massive Job' Colette at the controls, and with a final mix by Fabwize.
Nine conscious tracks in which, as said, occasional echoes from Tony's rock past can be heard. Much more than on his debut 'Croisades', Nephtali this time opts for English as his language of choice, an obsession for many a French artist we unfortunately don't share. So, it won't come as a surprise that it are 'Briser La Glace', summarized in the sentence: "Qui ne partage pas ses craintes, remplis son coeur de glace à jamais!" ("He who doesn't share his fears, fills his heart with ice forever!"), and 'Parle' (about people with big words but little wisdom), the only two songs in the language of Molière, which sounded most convincing.
Other recommendations are certainly the downtempo 'Devil Society' and the roots rock of 'In The Street'. Even though we would certainly have preferred to hear Tony sing in his native language a bit more, 'Chapter One' remains an enjoyable French roots production!