Serious Times

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Luciano is one of the most prolific artists on the roots and conscious dancehall scene. He's been cranking out several albums per year over the last decade, but what's really impressive is the consistently high quality of his work despite its quantity. This is partly due to the high regard in which he is held by many of Jamaica's top producers, who seem to hold their finest rhythms in reserve for him. On Serious Times, Luciano is working with veterans Joel Chin and Dean Fraser, who help him build powerful dancehall and modern roots grooves over which to sing his anthems of praise and admonition. The program consists largely of original songs, among which the title track and the Marley-esque "Alpha & Omega" are particular highlights. But there are some excellent cover versions as well, and a couple of them are rather surprising: Luciano's version of the José Feliciano classic "Come Down Father" sounds perfectly suited to its neo-roots setting here, and he also delivers a solid, if less distinctive, cover of Sangie Davis' "This Feeling." His rendition of Harry Nilsson's "Echoes of My Mind" (which baby boomers will remember from the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack) is given a solidly skanking rocksteady treatment that works surprisingly well. Highly recommended.

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