Road Block

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Screwdriver takes his time between albums. His first was released in 1995, and 2007's Road Block is only his third. One convenient byproduct of that kind of recording schedule is that it gives you an excuse to cover yourself -- and that's exactly what he does here, making a new dancehall version of his old hit song "Sharon You Pregnant (No Mama)." Stretching things out over a couple of decades also usually means that you're not completely tied down to a single style or period of reggae music, and that may explain the remarkable stylistic flexibility in evidence here: "Driver Reply" is based on a vintage early dancehall rhythm, "Man Is Just a Man" and "War" are both 1970s-style roots reggae, and that new version of "Sharon You Pregnant (No Mama)" (here titled simply "Sherron") gives the song an electro-calypso sheen. The sufferer's anthem "Stress Out" is perhaps the first song of its kind to mention student loans specifically, and "Poor Man Dream" updates the "Small Axe" rhythm very tastefully. All of this adds up to an unusually original-sounding reggae album by a man who really ought to get into the studio more often.

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