Soul Deep

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Sizzla partners with slick producer Donovan "Vendetta" Bennett for Soul Deep, arguably the softest Sizzla album to date. Fans who prefer the revolutionary Bobo Dread at his fiercest are going to point to this as another case of Sizzla overextending himself and glutting the market with substandard material, but there's a case to be made for the album's comfortable feeling and the cool way the singer presents himself as a balladeer. Not that the man hasn't sung a sweet song before, but Soul Deep is filled with them, along with pianos, nylon string guitars, and R&B-style background singers. Despite all these nods to the world of pop, Soul Deep doesn't seem like an attempt to crossover to American radio, unless Sizzla and Bennett think smooth jazz and pillow talk music are still dominating urban formats in 2005. He's not sleepwalking through this lighter-than-expected material and his genuine delivery validates his belief in it along with a hunger to try something new. Folks who have been following the singer get to hear his rarely used falsetto ("Love You More"), an ode to beautiful days that could make it on a Disney soundtrack ("Good Morning"), and a venom-filled, revolutionary number that, for once, fails ("Mount Zion"). All these quirks make Soul Deep a unique and interesting entry in Sizzla's gigantic discography, but too many likeminded ballads in row knocks down the album's desirability a notch.

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