With its wistful chorus, the title track to Julian Marley's Awake invents a new sort of reggae-emo sound. Influenced by the passing of his grandmother, Cedella Marley Booker, the song is a beautiful plea for the youth to open their eyes and let peace, love, and harmony into their heart, but this melodic mix of emo-pop and island music is an anomaly, opening up an otherwise unsurprising Julian Marley album. Less adventurous and more traditional than his stepbrothers Damien and Stephen, Julian is the sibling to satisfy the more roots-oriented fan, although he does carry a healthy R&B influence like so many other contemporary reggae artists. The silky "Oh Girl" would sound just right on any urban radio "pillow talk" program, while the spiritual highlight "Just in Time" falls somewhere between Barrington Levy and Wyclef. The remaining big numbers are straight-up Jamaican with "Violence in the Streets" sounding like a worthy follow-up to brother/guest star Damien's "Welcome to Jamrock," while the smoker's song, "Boom Draw," offers "A little bit of draw was on Solomon's throne" as the already deep drum and bass get soaked in reverb. Well-rounded and yet firmly in the genre of reggae, Awake is a comfortable, familiar success with Julian anchoring the Marley Family legacy once again.
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AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
feat: Mr. Cheeks