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After a series of disappointingly bland albums, Homegrown marks a slight return to form for UB40. While not as edgy and organic as longtime fans may have hoped, Homegrown has some great songs while avoiding the band's limp adult contemporary tendencies. Vocalist Ali Campbell sleepwalks through a couple love songs but the numerous political numbers find him coming alive and inspiring the band to push the groove a little harder. With dubby horns echoing and a lyrical and ominous warning to gun-carrying rappers, "Young Guns" is the kind of husky, slow groove that brings back the good old days. Ragamuffin vocalizing on "Freestyler" and a dub version of "Nothing Without You" are solid reggae moments, and the traditional "Sweet Chariot" (a track recorded for the Rugby World Cup featuring United Colours of Sound) makes for an excellent, uplifting closer. A little more energy and a little less filler and this could have been volume two of Rat in the Kitchen, but Homegrown at least points UB40 in the right direction while adding some worthwhile material to the band's repertoire.

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