Trust Me

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True to its name, Culture has always been a deeply cultural group, and leader Joseph Hill a careful, reasoning preacher, but Trust Me boasts an entire set of sermons that now reach true evangelical proportions. Of course, the group's last album, One Stone, was also filled with lessons on righteous living, but that set was a breezier, more upbeat affair. Which is not to suggest that this record is a downbeat set, only that Hill has shifted musical directions once again. Much of this album is seeped in the aura of a religious rally. The tent is pitched with the jubilant "No Night"; the revivalist meeting continues across the breezy hymnal "Reasoning"; it reaches a fever pitch on Bob Marley's "Chant Down Babylon," where Dean Fraser and Dave Madden's brass lead the Rasta parade; and attains a sweet epiphany on "Babylon a Weep," as the brethren unite to tear down the city. For those who prefer their culture more roots-styled, there's still plenty to celebrate, including the gorgeous "Writing on the Wall," the simmering "Dirty Tricks," and the stellar title track, which entwines tinges of funk and fabulous R&B-styled urban brass solos. There are also two nyabinghi-fashioned recuts of their classic "Jah Pretty Face" and a fine new version of "Black Starliner Must Come." With the departure of Kenneth Dayes, Culture has been reduced to a duo. However, Hill's powerful performances, Albert Walker's sublime harmonies, the fullness of the backing Dub Mystic's sound, and the superb productions and arrangements ensure that his absence is barely noticeable. Trust Me is a transcendental experience, the entire set glowing with Hill's insights and careful reasoning, so that even the irreverent will be listening to his cautions and wisdom.

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