Living in the Positive

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Here's the thing about Nasio that is always going to get in his way: he's basically a Bob Marley imitator, right down to the vocal quirks (that hoarse yodel at the end of a line, that tendency to turn simple vowel sounds into complex diphthongs) and the female backing vocals. Here's the thing that's going to keep him going: Bob Marley died long before people were done with him, and the world still needs someone who can sing like that and write songs of uplift and admonishment that way, and who can lead a band that rocks and grooves as sweetly and powerfully as the Wailers did, and as this one does. Nasio manages to create songs that are consistently interesting and engaging without being in the least bit original (herb is good, black people are beautiful, Babylon must fall, wicked man got no love for humanity, etc.), although he does get bonus points for introducing a highly unusual note of pantheism into his otherwise standard-issue Rastafarian discourse on the lovely "African Spirits." And you just can't say enough good about the studio band he has assembled for this album: its sound is rich, complex, and thoroughly human, and it swings with the kind of tight elasticity that was the hallmark of such classic studio bands as the Soul Syndicate, the Revolutionaries, and, not coincidentally, the late-period Wailers. Highly recommended to all fans of classic roots reggae, and everyone who misses Bob Marley. That's an awful lot of people.

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