I get the feeling that every new album from Sizzla in recent years has been labeled as a return to his sound from the mid and late 90’s. But everytime I’m disappointed. Because none of his more recent albums is nearly as great as the fierce and spiritual music he did for, say, Phillip “Fattis” Burrell or Bobby “Digital” Dixon.
The Messiah – Sizzla’s 70th and latest album – has also been described as something of an album where Sizzla goes back to the roots. Well, lyrically it may be true, but then again his three latest albums have all been jammed with spiritual and righteous ravings and chants.
Musically The Messiah is better than both his albums released in 2011, but not as good as The Scriptures released in 2011 and produced by King Jammy’s son John John, even though they are similar.
On The Messiah Sizzla sings – as usually an acquired taste – and spits his social commentaries over mostly relicked popular reggae and dancehall riddims, including the mighty Tempo riddim and Harry J’s buoyant skinhead rocker The Liquidator, a rather odd choice, but one that actually works really well. The festive sound clashes nicely with Sizzla’s falsetto singing about politicians killing and stealing from the poor.
No Wicked Man, voiced over Barrington Levy’s Tell Them Already, is one of Sizzla’s finest album tracks in a long while, and the high-powered Suffer So Much, on the aforementioned Tempo riddim, will definitely set any dancehall or living room ablaze.
Sizzla is one the greatest and most prolific reggae artists, but his intricate vocal style is hard to cope with on a full album. He has clear pitch problems and it can be charming and add character, but only to a certain point. Sizzla’s musical mission and struggle to make a positive change in the world is overshadowed by his eagerness to extend over his vocal limitations.
Available now on CD and digital platforms.