Rule the Time

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

There are not very many roots reggae bands about which it can be said that they have a truly unique sound. Maybe what makes this one so unusual is that it isn't really a band -- it appears to be singer Vaughn Benjamin of the St. Croix roots ensemble Midnite, in collaboration with I Grade Records honcho Laurent "Tippie" Alfred and the label's crack team of studio players. Their sound is built on a deep and solid foundation of old-school roots-and-culture reggae, with an almost exclusive focus on social/religious lyrics couched in dark, slowly churning rhythms. The songs are mostly pretty simple, and sometimes they're so simple that they don't make sense on paper. "Runway," for example, really shouldn't work -- it's basically a one-chord song with almost no lyrical variation. But somehow it does, and not just by generating a hypnotic groove; there's something about its quiet intensity that holds your attention. And then, when "Sensi Tie Chi" kicks in with its dancehall beat, richer horn chart and more varied chord progression, the effect is like the sun suddenly coming out from behind a cloud bank. "Love and Light" is sprawling and feels unorganized and maybe even improvised, like those old Linval Thompson songs that consisted of him simply freestyling (badly) over prefab rhythms. But somehow the discursiveness works in Midnite's favor, and the song hits hard. Examples of this kind of musical paradox pile up over and over on this album, until 78 minutes have gone by and you realize that you've been in a kind of trance for over an hour and now the world seems like a better place somehow. That's another thing you can't say about too many roots reggae albums -- instead of making you feel worse about being in Babylon, this one makes you feel like maybe things really are in Jah's hands.

blue highlight denotes track pick