The debut album from Trinidadian roots reggae singer Jamelody offers an interesting program. It starts off in a fairly typical roots and culture vein, with the singer working from a very nice set of Bobby Digital rhythms and delivering a lovely repatriation anthem ("Ithiopia"), an equally pretty praise hymn ("Give Thanks"), and a fine sufferer's track ("Pressure"), none of which sets him apart from the competition but all of which make nice contributions to the roots repertoire. Then things start getting a bit unusual. His gospel exercise, "When the Saints Go to Worship," finds him sounding just a bit out of his depth; his voice isn't quite up to the rigors the song requires, and he's shown up thoroughly by the massed voices of the Bethesda Healing Center Choir. Then, instead of returning to the reggae comfort zone, he keeps wandering out into the musical hinterlands, switching producers and coming up with borderline pop/R&B tracks like "Since You've Been Away," and a fine arrangement of Stevie Wonder's "Ribbon in the Sky." After a couple of less successful fusion attempts (notably the overproduced "It So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday") he returns to the reggae fold with a solid one-two-three combination: the horticultural "High Grade" (featuring excellent toasting from Natural Blacks), a nod to the Bobo Dread contingent with Capleton, and an update of a classic Channel One rhythm. Despite a few strange moments, this is a fine album overall.
Be Prepared Review
by Rick Anderson
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