The Ethiopians

On the Road Again

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The voice is as powerful as ever, but On the Road Again is let down by the reggae light arrangements, all positively jaunty throughout, perhaps appropriate for a lightweight positive reggae performer, but deathly for a cultural singer like Dillon. The artist self-produced this set, so he has no one to blame but himself, although why musicians the caliber of Earl "Chinna" Smith and Lloyd Parkes didn't attempt to provide a bit more appropriate atmosphere is equally inexplicable. There are some strong songs here, just discernible under the overly cheery keyboards and perky beats. "One Step Forward" is one example, a wonderfully moody number drowning in a saccharine swill. "In Do Mi Deh" may be another, but it's hard to tell, as it's lost in a faux dancehall style -- a potent reminder of why the best producers in this genre are so adulated. "Woman of Babylon" has real power, and Dillon's delivery is absolutely blinding -- so why did he leech out its lifeblood with identi-kit reggae rhythms? The simplistic, synthetic beats that fuel many of the songs further assault the aural senses. For anyone who ever wondered how Jamaican producers had the nerve to claim copyrights to songs (and the lion's share of the profits), here's your answer. An extraordinary vocal talent undone by his sheer lack of ability on the other side of the soundboard.

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