Even though I.O.U. is less edgy than its predecessor, Red Rose for Gregory, and minus its international smash break-outs, nonetheless this is a thoroughly satisfying set. After that heavy hitting album, fired by a trio of rough and ready singles, this one finds Gregory Isaacs returning to his loverman persona. Virtually the entire set is concerned with relationships, from the first sparks of "Break the Ice", the dangers of a "Fatal Attraction" where one "Can't Make a Slip", to the heady romance of "Too Good to be True" and the heartfelt title track, a grandiloquent thank you for your love. Tough personal choices, romantic frustrations, and "Jealousy" are all explored, the latter with the able assistance of Jimmy Cliff. Gussie Clarke again takes the production honors, with the dancehall fired rhythms laid down by Steely & Clevie, abetted by the fabulous Ras Brass and Robbie Lyn's exceptional synth work. And even if the raggamuffins are "Big All Around", and life is a "Hard Road to Travel", Isaacs remains overwhelmingly optimistic, although the guesting Mutabaruka gives some weight to the latter number's message. Romance rules, and never more so than on the luxurious "Too Good," which charmed the Jamaican charts. "Slip" is positively poppy, and even the toughest rhythms are rich in melody and atmospheres, as with the stellar "Jealousy." However, the most startling number is the ominous "Report to Me", another local smash, that updates a smoldering roots rhythm, while Isaacs shifts from headmaster to judge and jury of his misbehaving girl. But bar that, this is a positively bouncy record, with plenty of lyrical meat for the Cool Ruler to chew on.
AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene
feat: Jimmy Cliff