Three years in the making, Milwaukee-area native Saskia Pretorius has produced her second CD for Mt. Zion Soundsystem, The Journey, just in time for the fresh start of a new year. Built around original reggae music with deeply thoughtful lyrics, Pretorius inspires and exhorts us - to be better, to love more, to find our better selves and to appreciate the beauty of our world. Also a professional African dancer, she found inspiration in ancient West African rhythms and has infused them into her unique sound. In the opening song, "Big People," through layers of acoustic guitars, she urges listeners to "shake off your fears and see the light." Big People are those who are "big in your heart and big in your soul." Under an African rhythm called Lamban- a rhythm and dance from Mali that dates back thousands of years and is about the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca- Pretorius takes us on a spiritual journey back through time in her title song, "The Journey." She also takes a swipe at the effects of industrialization. "Take a little journey back in time. Go back to the beginning, before there was crime. When we go back, we see there was no industry, no pollution, no thinking this is just for me...We don't need cars, we don't need planes. We don't need their poisons coursing through our veins...We don't need prepackaged goods and contamination. The food supply is an abomination...." But it is in "Only Love" where her originality really shines. "I wanted to paint a picture using words and music -- to create a space you can be in," Pretorius said. This aim is especially evident where we find ourselves "standing on the top of Mt. Zion." In your imagination, if only for a moment, you are "breathing air so clean, living as if in a dream. The birds fly by in spirals, bells a-ring, hear the angels sing..."