Khani Jones

Ancient Spirits

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The young Khani Jones makes his debut appearance with this remarkably mature album, a dense, crunchy, and consistently satisfying fusion of rock, reggae, hip-hop, and R&B. Those who think of reggae as languid, mystical music best suited for loose-limbed dancing or spliffed-out contemplation will experience Ancient Spirits as something of a shock: Jones pays due respect to his roots, but there is a sense of compressed power and tensile energy in this music that makes it anything but relaxing or contemplative. Witness, for example, the rockish guitars on "Easy Come Easy Go," the hard funk metal groove of "Inhale & Exhale," and the vigorous rockers beat and rich horn chart on "A Lot of Them." Things bog down just a bit toward the end of the program, with the lackluster title track and mediocre loverman move of "For You I Got Love." But "Empress in My Eyes" finishes things off with a bang, combining a midtempo and minimalist rockers groove with subtly lovely backing vocals and a sweetly romantic lyric. Highly recommended.

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