They say never judge a book by its cover or never judge an apple by looking at a tree. I say – don’t judge Smiley’s debut album Traffic Light by its painful and horrible gangsta rap and heavy metal looking cover sleeve. It’s way better than it looks and sounds great if you like contemporary European one drop reggae.
Smiley dropped his heavyweight Junior Kelly combination Dem A Wonder five years ago and it was followed by the bright EP Lively Road in 2010.
Traffic Light is his debut album and collects 16 live played tracks, including a short spoken outro. Production is mostly helmed by his fellow Dutch musician Stiko, but Anthony Senior of Al.Ta.Fa.An Records turns up as producer on the Anthony B combination Keep the Joy.
Smiley singing is vivid and he has great confidence. At times he almost has a kind of authoritative tone in his voice and sometimes he gets into a light singjay mode.
A former boss once told me that good things looks good. Unfortunately that’s not the case with Traffic Light. Don’t let the sleeve fool you.