Late in her career as a reggae singer, Judy Mowatt converted to Christianity and took time off to get her spiritual bearings. When she returned to the music scene she had founded her own label and was writing and singing songs that reflected both her reggae roots and her new faith. The musical results are generally impressive, if not always completely compelling. The songs on Something Old, Something New that come most explicitly from the Christian gospel tradition tend to be a bit soft in the middle -- lots of tinkling chimes, swelling synthesizers, and dewy-eyed sentiments of encouragement and uplift. When a spare rockers' beat and sturdy horn chart kick in behind Mowatt's powerful voice on the album's third track, a no-nonsense roots anthem called "Many Are Called," it comes as a relief. "I Sing Praises" is the album's most effective combination of gospel themes and reggae flavors, and there is also an exquisite dancehall setting of the gospel classic "Blood-Washed Pilgrim." After wobbling back and forth a few more times between straight-up reggae and moist gospel soul, she ends the program with a powerful soca number called "Hold Them Jesus." This is maybe not a perfect album, but it clearly shows that Judy Mowatt still has plenty to offer. Recommended.
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