Culture

Wings of a Dove

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Released at the end of a period of heavy touring that brought Culture to Europe and the United States, Wings of a Dove found the vocal trio of Joseph Hill, Kenneth Dayes, and Albert Walker returning to a roots style. Because of this, many have believed that the recordings may actually pre-date those for the 1991, dancehall-flavored Three Sides to My Story. Produced by group frontman Hill, Wings of a Dove is still informed by the slicker production sensibilities of the 1990s: the soft, glimmering keyboard work of Clive Hunt, Tony Brisset, and Winston Wright matching the glossy sound of Dwight Pickney's (Zap Pow) rhythm guitar. The album's success is due largely to the lyrics of Hill, whose Rastafarian concerns and reality themes are present in the same undiluted form they always had been. A handful of the rhythms are strong enough to elevate the material to the plateau Culture were still so capable of reaching. "Marriage in Canaan" focuses on an exquisite harmony performance, the trio riding a rhythm with a relaxed, nyahbingi feel, while a similarly rich, traditional percussion style drives the excellent "Pass On." At least one track, "Freedom Time," harks back to the raw feel of late-'70s roots with an excellent, choppy guitar skank from Pickney. Elsewhere, the infectious backing of "Too Much Pressure" made it an obvious choice for a single. Album closer "English Fireplace," however, with its hollow synth washes, will no doubt leave a bitter taste in the mouths of roots fans. Not an essential Culture set, Wings of a Dove nonetheless contains some powerful music from a group 15 years into its career.

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