Michael Rose

Warrior

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    7
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Over the course of a long and storied reggae career, Michael Rose has really never made a bad album, and some of his strongest recordings have been the recent ones he's made in collaboration with bassist and producer Ryan Moore (who records on his own under the name Twilight Circus Dub Sound System). So one approaches Warrior with high hopes, and if those hopes aren't entirely borne out, that's not to say that this isn't a completely serviceable and very enjoyable album. The problem is that Rose doesn't sound completely engaged with the music -- his lyrics are as roots-wise and hortatory as ever, but in many cases they sound halfhearted and too often they fall back on familiar tropes and clich├ęd phrases. The rhythms over which he sings are as powerful as you'd expect, given the producer and the presence of such A-list sessioneers as Dean Fraser, Chinna Smith, Skully Sims, and Sly Dunbar. But without the sharp, keening edge of righteous indignation that animates Rose's best work alone and with Black Uhuru, the result is just very good roots reggae. Highlights include the encouraging "Little Bit More" and the lovely "Dangerzone" (which features a gloriously rich one-drop rhythm and subtly complex horn charts), and the rest varies between pleasant and really very pleasant. A must for Rose's many fans, but others may want to start elsewhere.

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