Sizzla

The Messiah

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Prolific as can be, Sizzla's 2013 release The Messiah counts off album number 70 for the reggae singer, and that's with a career that began in 1995. Of course, he's a pro at rattling off righteous lyrics that are memorable, plus roots-based choruses with rock-solid hooks that flow effortlessly out of the Bobo Dread, so packaging these rebel songs into albums seems easy enough. Sizzla has also always challenged listeners more with his beliefs and politics than his music, so consider his giant discography a natural byproduct of a creative force that just keeps over-flowing and is easily captured. Strong the whole way through, The Messiah suggests that even with his Zappa-like release schedule, the man hasn't been spread too thin, and just to keep things interesting, Sizzla's narrow world of modern roots music shifts ever so slightly. The shift is toward the mystic reggae of Vaughn Benjamin's group Midnite as the opening "Psalm 21," "Look How Many Years," and the title cut all offer plaintive stories that meander and spin, straying off their narrative and freely wandering into biblical verse. It's an interesting move for Sizzla and his Bread Back production team, who handles most of the beats here and gets into more expected Anthony B territory with the smooth singalong "Center of Attraction." Guest producer Jam 2 offers a modern, almost Damian Marley-sounding riddim on "Chant Dem Down," which ends with a surprisingly furious set of curse words from the singer, but the album's oddest bit is how "Dem Nuh Business" sounds dangerously close to the Staple Singer's "I'll Take You There." All that said, "Good Love" is the kind of R&B the emotive crooner doesn't record enough of, "What a Joy" is aptly titled for those who love it deep and dubby, and "Better Come Out" is abrasive dancehall on the sinister side. Put it together and this is in the Top 10 of Sizzla albums, but don't forget, there are 70.

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