Monday, September 17, 2012

Songs Like Sand, Riddim Like Dirt

It's autumn and, as expected, a wave of new singles, albums and riddim compilations are arriving just in time for Jamaica's holiday festival season (Sting, Rebel Salute etc.). It's a mark of success and honor for an artist to have a big tune over the holidays, as it often translates into further successes later in the year.

For now, just a quick mention of a few new and recent releases ForwardEver has been enjoying. First up, VP & 17 N Parade's Reggae Anthology series looks at Barrington Levy in the '80s with Sweet Reggae Music, a 2CD and DVD set out Nov 2. It features "Black Roses," "Like A Soldier," "Mini Bus," "Under Mi Sensi" and more.

Another legacy artist, Third World lead singer Bunny Rugs,  issued his new solo album Time on September 11, 2012. The 15-track album features production by Sly & Robbie, Dean Fraser, Mikie Bennett and Richard "Star Trail" Bell.

Bunny Rugs sings with soul and thoughtfulness on the set, which includes both conscious one-drop tracks and romantic ballads. If you like his delivery on Third World classics like "96 Degrees In The Shade" or "African Woman," you'll enjoy songs like "It's Time" or "Bed of Roses" from this project. Rugs's voice has only sweetened with, well, time, and he uses all of his powers to deliver one of the year's finest reggae albums.

Not to be overshadowed by the elder Rugs, romantic reggae crooner Da'Ville is back with a big new album. Krazy Love is as consistent as  his previous efforts, and songs like "This Love," "When I'm With You" and "I Was Wrong" might be charting very soon.

The album also sees Da'Ville exploring dancehall and even British club production, as with Cadenza's remix of "You Got Di Ting," a rough, garage-y refix.

Finally, gotta love the cover art for the new Focus Riddim set. It's sure eye catching, almost an optical illusion if you stare at it too long. But long listening is also what this album demands as you get fantastic performances from D'Major, Tidal, Exco Levi and Timeka Marshal. Produced by Dawin "Vikings" Brown and Omar Brown from Vikings Productions house, the riddim is a solidly polished mid-tempo one-drop riddim (think Penthouse or Don Corleon-type productions) and the artists all shine. As a teaser, check Exco Levi's "Save The Music" right now.

Sierra Nevada World Music Festival
 I'll conclude with a few images from the 19th annual Sierra Nevada World Music Festival in Boonville, Mendocino, CA. The event was took place June 22-24 and featured Third World, J-Boog, Lutan Fyah, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Twinkle Brothers, Johnny Osbourne, Sister Nancy and Romain Virgo among the many performers. Next year's 20th-year event is expected to be one of the biggest in it's history. Check their "Phorum" message board regularly for updates.

Romain Virgo

Johnny Osbourne
Prince Alla