Songs from the Heart

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The combination of Sanchez, one of the sweetest-voiced dancehall crooners in the history of reggae, and Bobby Digital, one of the most gifted producers of dancehall's computer-rhythm school, is one that raises expectations. And, for the most part, this album meets those expectations, though it doesn't ever really exceed them and it does fall flat in several places. Most of the rhythms themselves are excellent; provided by Steelie & Clevie, Danny Browne, and the Firehouse Crew, they're slick and modern while frequently harking back to reggae's golden era. The album's lead cut, in fact, is an adaptation of the "Love I Can Feel" rhythm, and towards the end Danny Browne reprises the "Independent Man" rhythm (and lyrics) to create a new song titled "Unchained." In between are some very fine moments, including the herb anthem "Chronic" and a surprisingly subtle composition entitled "Leave Out of Babylon." But "Wild Flower" and "Another Sad Love Song" are both mediocre, while Sanchez' update of "Can't Get Used to Losing You" is hideous, sung with complete disregard for the key and chord progression. Skip over those three tracks, though, and you have a solidly enjoyable dancehall album.

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