Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Reggae Singles: A Lovers Return

(Lee Francis - his cover improves the original)

I wonder if nice times beget nice music and vice-versa? For instance, since Obama's election, I've noticed fewer violent gun tunes coming out of Jamaica and elsewhere, and a resurgence of lovers rock and sophisticated new roots, while the dancehall has turned it's attention to all thing financially enriching.

Although the Jamaican crime rate has only edged down slightly, evidence of the nice vibes weh gwaan now in the music can be heard in the audio playlist below.

Singles like Tarrus Riley's "Loves Contagious" -- riding an excellent lick of Marley's "Coming In From the Cold" -- sets the tone for a new generation of lovers artists and acts. Daville, Romain Virgo, L.U.S.T., Alaine and many others are confidently reinventing Jamaican romantic reggae for 21st century lovers.

Digicell Rising Stars finalist Romain Virgo is an especially versatile newcomer, currently recording with no less than Donovan Germaine's Penthouse Studios. His "Who Feels It Knows It" is a working class anthem, extolling the virtues of all those who slog through a 9-to-5 job. In a sense it's a echo of the past -- remember when Horace Andy did a talk 'bout "Skylarking"?

Next, Lee Francis is competent crooner whose been developing his own unique R&B/reggae niche. The UK-based artist (founder of Smart Move label) and son of legend Winston "Mr. Fix It" Francis has a sting of sweet hits, perhaps none better than his cover of American Idol runner-up Elliot Yamin's "Wait 4 You." This is the case of a passable original being made better through it's reggae reinterpretation. Francis channels his best Chris Brown/Usher notes but remains throughly his own singer.

Also in the player is the only roots cut from electronic dance group Major Lazer's new album. "Cash Flow" features Boot Camp Clique veteran Jahdan Blakkamoore just absolutely killing a nice one-drop ting. Listen to the tune and you know Babylon is crumbling!

"Say it Loud" is a sweet track from newcomer RC. Thanks to Umerah Mujahid and
One House Entertainment for linking us with dat deh one!

DayInJah's "Love_Song(Upsetta_Sound_Cuss_Fix_Riddim)" is inna Waterhouse stylee. Seriously, if you wondered what Tenor Saw might sound over a hip-hop-tinged "Cuss Cuss" lick, check that tune.

Bastard Jazz label is also repping this month with the lovely Beverley Road All-Stars EP. It's a reggae downtempo club hybrid with nuff flair and character.

Other bits in the player include single on the relick of Soul Rebel, Peetah Morgan on the Indiscretion riddim, plus a track each on the Baba Roots and Addition riddims.

Reggae June 09