Horace Andy

Roots and Branches

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The 1990s found Horace Andy's career on the upswing once again. With Massive Attack championing his cause and featuring him regularly on their albums, and his own writing revitalized, the singer enjoyed a high profile with a new audience. Having classic productions for Clement Dodd, Bunny Lee, Tappa Zukie, and Keith Hudson under his belt, Andy teamed up with London dub producer/Ariwa label owner Neil "Mad Professor" Fraser for Roots and Branches. From the moment he announces "We can un-i-e-e-e-te," kicking off the title track, it's clear that Andy's unique, quivering falsetto remained completely intact. Likewise, the compositions that follow find him delving into the same blend of subject matter found on his classic 1977 solo effort, In the Light. The singer weighs in on a number of reality themes, including humankind's African origins ("Roots and Branches"), the institution of slavery ("Kunte Kinte"), repatriation ("Repatriation Is a Must"), and the promised land ("Holy Mount Zion"). Following the first four tracks, however, Andy breaks with the string of cultural topics for the core of the album. While love songs "Pillow Talk" and "Sugar My Coffee" are passable if dispensable, the same can't be said of readings of "Betcha By Golly, Wow" and "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," rather odd cover choices for the singer. Thankfully, Andy picks up the reality thread once again for the closing trio of songs, ending memorably on the accusatory "Why Late and Regret." Roots and Branches is a well-balanced set, the covers and lover stylings failing to diminish the power of the more thoughtful lyrics that abound throughout.

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