Three years ago Duane Stephenson scored a hit with the beautiful August Town, taken from his solo debut From August Town.
His debut was a 15 track blend of romance and culture on one drop and acoustic riddims. In my view a weak album that didn’t match the quality of his hit song.
Now Duane Stephenson is at it again and his sophomore album Black Gold hit the streets some weeks ago.
Black Gold is made after the same recipe as From August Town – primarily smooth one drop riddims and acoustic ballads. The production is mainly done by Dean Fraser and Duane Stephenson himself. However, two tunes are credited to Christopher Birchill and one to Kemar “Flava” McGregor.
Stay At Home is a combination with Queen Ifrica on the Movie Star riddim. Her energy blends very well with Duane Stephenson’s sincere and intimate singing. Soon as We Rise is also a combination, this time with Garnett Silk’s successor Ras Shiloh. This one is on Kemar “Flava” McGregor’s Classic riddim, a silky riddim with nice horn arrangements.
But Black Gold consists of too many soft ballads. Sure there are some great pop hooks, but also too many pompous arrangements and save the world lyrics.
Duane Stephenson wrote music for Luciano’s edgy United States of Africa, released earlier this year. It shows that Duane Stephenson certainly is able to write music that appeal to listeners that don’t sit around the campfire or hold ligthers in the air at concerts. He should have saved some of Luciano’s tunes for himself. Because this album lacks both edge and energy.