Jah Knows Best

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Jamaica's Miguel Orlando Collins -- otherwise known as Sizzla -- is one prolific musician, with over 25 albums to his credit in the past decade, and his pace seems to be picking up to three or four releases a year, including this one, which reunites him with Phillip "Fattis" Burrell, who produced 1995's Burning Up. Jah Knows Best is a little less frenetic and experimental than most Sizzla albums, although that doesn't mean it's exactly mellow. The singer's Bobo Rasta style is still front and center, and he still sounds impatient and incensed at the injustices he sees around him, but he just seems, well, to have calmed down a micro step, although he does manage to rattle off Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" in a dancehall style in a little over two minutes, which is hardly a relaxed pace. The most impressive song here is Sizzla's own "Real People," an anti-violence piece that contains the memorable lines "real people do real things/we don't go around killing others/and steal things." Sizzla has two distinct voices, a gruff, Buju Banton-like bellow that he uses when he's really pissed off, and a sweet, delicate tenor that he uses to make softer points, and it is this voice he uses on two of the album's best songs, the opening "Jah Knows Best" and the nyahbinghi-inflected closer, "Jah Is Love." One can't help but think that Jah Knows Best is a transitional project for this dancehall star, a half step to a more internationally accessible style. At the rate Sizzla releases projects, you probably won't have to wait too long to find out.

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