Romain Virgo

Romain Virgo

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Romain Virgo grew up singing in Christian churches and won a national talent contest at age 17; by the time he was 20, he had released this impressive debut album and solidified a reputation for himself as a major new reggae talent. It's not just that his voice is so strong, or that he wrote all the songs on this album himself, though both of those factors are impressive enough. What sets him apart from the pack is his musical maturity. His vocals are gospel-flavored but never whiny or cheaply emotive, and he is consistently on pitch (though that may be due in part to the occasionally audible presence of Auto-Tune). Highlight tracks include the brilliant anti-violence anthem "Mi Caan Sleep," a loping one-drop ode to "Dark Skin Girl," and "Live Mi Life," which appropriates and updates the "Keep on Moving" rhythm. Fellow up-and-comer Etana contributes very nice vocals on a combination track titled "Who Feels It Knows It" (not the Marley song), and "Be Careful" incorporates a nyahbinghi drum arrangement to fine effect. There are very effective lover's tracks in amongst the sufferer's anthems and roots-and-culture exhortations, and it all adds up to a remarkably assured and accomplished debut effort by a startlingly young man.

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