The Love Grocer

Across the Valley

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Some reggae bands try to compel you onto the dancefloor; others encourage you to take to the streets in protest. Love Grocer (primarily the duo of horn players Chris Petter and Dave Fullwood, aided and abetted here by a number of fine sidemen) seems to have a different agenda altogether. Their sound is smooth and lush -- not overly slick or melodically simplistic, just supple and warm and approachable. Several of the tracks on this album feature vocals, but Love Grocer's hearts seem to be in the instrumentals, which tend to be jazzy in texture, funky in rhythm, and arranged in a manner designed to disguised their sometimes impressive harmonic complexity. Subtle dubwise flourishes and elements of techno are scattered throughout the album as well. This band is completely comfortable in a roots reggae vein, but maybe just a bit too comfortable; the highlight tracks tend to be the funkier and more adventurous numbers, such as the sassy "Cloudy Day," the slippery and Latin-flavored "I Am the Cat," and the dubbed-up rockers groove of "Hornsman Dub," with its nasty clavinet sound. The more mainstream fare, such as the rather generic sufferer's anthem "Surviving" and enjoyable one-drop instrumental "Sunset Point," are nice but not quite as compelling. Recommended overall.

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