Jah Words

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Perhaps the most influential and certainly one of the most prolific figures on the modern roots reggae scene, Luciano has made a string of excellent recordings characterized by up-to-the-minute rhythms and sweetly positive lyrical messages. His most obvious influence is still the late Dennis Brown, and the only question now is whether Luciano will be able to avoid some of Brown's more dangerous mistakes -- among them the professional mistake of overexposure and over-production. Jah Words, featuring rhythms provided by the production team of Ian Clough and Calvini Bakker, finds him in fine form, though the album itself suffers from some strange and inexcusable problems. One of them is the repetition of the song "Angel Heart," which shows up in an almost identical mix (minus one female vocalist) as a "bonus track" at the end of the album; another problem is the careless engineering that results in vocal saturation on "Cry for Justice" and "Look Deep Within." Luckily, these errors are nicely counterbalanced by such powerful performances as "Are You With Me," the churning "Many Things," and the militantly humble "Foot Soljah." "Why Should I" brings a muscular dancehall feel to the proceedings, and contrasts nicely with the rootsier fare that surrounds it. Recommended.

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