Gappy Ranks

Shining Hope

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Carrying on with the pop and R&B elements he introduced on 2011's album Thanks & Praise, Shining Hope finds U.K. reggae singer Gappy Ranks in a sweet and positive mood for the most part, the Bob Marley tribute "Everything’s Gonna Be Alright" being the album's ultimate beam of sunlight. With Exco Levi added to the cut and a fat production underneath, that key track is also a prime example of the R&B/dancehall/contemporary reggae blend the artist has become fond of since leaving the nostalgic sound of his 2010 effort, Put the Stereo On, behind, which full-bodied and open-armed numbers like "Tomorrow Loves You" benefit greatly from, blossoming in this welcoming, Ziggy Marley-sized sound. Sounding like another member of the Marley clan, Damian or "Jr. Gong," the sure "Up Again" rocks with a martial reggae beat as Gappy sings in full Patois, while -- be it because of economics or a love of the old-school -- the easy, rolling love ballad "Hello" recalls the sound of reggae in the '80s, where "small room" recordings became more popular thanks to drum machines, synths, and the other tools of ragga music. Drenched in reverb and barking revolution in an Anthony B style, the great, thumping declaration called "Carpenter" closes this one in rootsman style, but it comes after 13 tracks when there arguably should have been 10, sacrificing at least one of the sugary sweet ballads, perhaps. As such, Shining Hope isn't a perfect Gappy album, but it's his best since Put the Stereo On, and probably a better showcase of his diverse style.

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