Ras Shiloh

Coming Home

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Ras Shiloh's third album is a well-constructed showcase for his voice, one built on a variety of rootswise rhythms provided by Bobby Digital and a shifting cast of studio players that includes drummer Squidley Cole, bassist Danny Bassie, saxophonist Dean Fraser, and guitarist Dalton Browne. While the sound is crisp and modern throughout, the overall flavor is quite old-school, and Shiloh's lyrics are strictly roots and culture with occasional digressions into a gentle loverman mode. His voice is a powerful and slightly ragged tenor that sometimes sounds like it's threatening to waver off pitch but always snaps back into place (one suspects some artful use of Auto-Tune here) and sometimes also develops just a little too much of a pseudo-gospel whine. He avoids the worst excesses of that tendency, though, and this album ends up being a solid winner overall. On the lover's side, "Need Your Love" is particularly sweet-natured and features some fine solo work by Fraser (who really should have also been featured in place of the synthetic flute on "Are You Lonely"). On the message side, his combination tracks with DJ Bascom X ("New Rising Day") and the more smooth-voiced crooner Natural Black ("It Will Be Over") are both very good. "Volume of the Book" and "Coming Home" both nicely evoke middle-period Steel Pulse, and "Come Down Jah Jah" takes the "Johnny Too Bad" rhythm and uses it to power a gently powerful sufferer's anthem. Very nice.

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