Serve Jah

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Luciano, better known as Messenjah, extols his devout Rastafarian beliefs with a stirring sense of melody on this excellent offering released in early 2003. The Messenjah's smooth proselytizing is aided by a slew of modern reggae's finest musicians: superb drum work from Sly Dunbar and "Clevie" Browne, deft guitar licks from Robbie Shakespeare and Danny "Ax Man" Thompson, polished horn work by Dean Fraser, and expert keyboard touches from "Steely" Johnson. Master producer Jack Scorpio puts it all together to create lush, contemplative one-drop riddims for Luciano's effortless toasting. "I Will Survive," "Win or Lose," and "Long Story" stand out as the most emotive cuts on this solid-throughout album. But while the musical elements are invariably strong here, so is the somewhat repetitive lyrical content, replete with Rastafarian-styled prophecy and admonishments. Luciano's soulful vocal qualities evoke the best of the R&B and gospel traditions, but his spiritual brand of reggae is far removed from the lovers genre and fun-time crossover dancehall as well. For those who like their grooves irey, this release may more than suffice, but if you like your reggae light and fancy-free, this won't be your cup of tea.

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