Yesterday I published a list covering my top 50 reggae tunes 2013, and in the introduction I wrote that it has been a strong year for reggae music. That goes for reggae album releases as well, and there have been very worthwhile efforts from veterans and newer talents from Europe, Africa, Jamaica and the U.S.
The list below collects 25 roots, dub and dancehall albums in no particular order. Competition was as usual fierce and a number of very competitive efforts had to be left out.
Luciano – The Qabalah Man
Harmonious and elegant and yet another well-written chapter in Luciano’s long and fruitful career.
Milton Henry – Branches and Leaves
A connection between generations and an artist and an producer that shares a common love for vintage roots reggae. Not a reissue, but this album echoes from a time that many people refer to as the golden age of reggae.
Lloyd Brown – Rootical
Lloyd Brown’s most roots-oriented set to date and it has a classic, yet modern feel.
Shaggy & Sly & Robbie – Out of Many, One Music
No monster hits like It Wasn’t Me, Boombastic or Oh Carolina included, but instead it’s one of Shaggy’s most authentic and reggae-oriented albums yet, and an impressively cohesive effort.
Pura Vida – Red Hot
Pura Vida’s debut release under their own name and a set that is just as strong as their previous efforts with other artists.
Lutan Fyah – Life of a King
A spiritual and powerful contemporary roots reggae journey with clear influences from nyabinghi, hip-hop and old school dancehall.
Bitty McLean – Taxi Sessions
A mix of cultural and lovers themes, and Bitty McLean’s honey-drenched voice suits the easy-going and bouncy riddims perfectly. This is harmonious and beautifully arranged reggae with lots of soul and charm.
Dub Club – Foundation Come Again
The musicians on this release take a relentless taking-no-prisoners-approach to executing the pulsating and thumping riddims into deadly sonic punches. And there are so many highlights on this album I really don’t know where to begin.
Cornel Campbell & Soothsayers – Nothing Can Stop Us
A varied and ethereal set firmly grounded in reggae, but with significant influences from funk, afrobeat, dub and soul.
Alborosie – Sound the System/Dub the System
Puppa Rosie’s fifth album – and its dub counterpart – has a classic, yet contemporary, sound, heavily influenced by early 80’s dancehall in a Sly & Robbie style and fashion.
Brinsley Forde – Urban Jungle
As part of Aswad Brinsley Forde made a number of immortal albums essential in any record collection and with Urban Jungle he shows that he’s capable of making rock solid albums on his own. File next to Hulet, New Chapter and Showcase.
Cornel Campbell – New Scroll
The sweet high tenor voice courtesy of Cornel Campbell is set to magnificent music from the highly talented production trio Zion I Kings.
Jahcoustix – Frequency
German singer Jahcoustix wanted to make a more diverse album, but Frequency is instead his most consistent and cohesive set yet.
Trinity – Eye to Eye
Gruff voiced pioneering deejay Trinity teamed-up with Irie Ites for this retro sounding musical feast.
Meta & The Cornerstones – Ancient Power
Bob Marley-sounding Meta Dia moved from his home country Senegal to New York City and was exposed to an array of musical styles. His second album is roots reggae at its finest.
Jah Sun – Rise as One
Best album yet from this reliable U.S. deejay.
Lion D – Bring Back the Vibes
Rising star on the European and global reggae scene that has managed to make a catchy album full of foundation vibes.
Chezidek – The Order of Melchezedik
In 2010 Chezidek teamed-up with Dutch label JahSolidRock for his critically acclaimed album Judgement Time. In April this year the same label dropped this set, and needless to say – they put out another powerful set of Rasta anthems.
Lloyd Brown – New Veteran
Probably one of the most consistent artists – in any genre – in the world. Lloyd Brown usually drops at least one album per year and the quality is remarkably high.
Captain Sinbad – Reggae Music Will Mad Unu!
This veteran deejay made his musical comeback for Frenchie more than 20 years after his latest release. The LP and the version for digital platforms have different track lists, and I suggest you check out the vinyl version.
The Lions – This Generation
13 musicians and four lead singers were involved the making of this soulful album that could be cherished by youths and elders alike.
Etana – Better Tomorrow
Etana’s most cohesive yet and offers a soulful something for everyone.
Jah9 – New Name
Debut album from the conscious Jah9. Her jazzy and breezy voice floats over hard riddims produced by Rory from Stone Love.
Protoje – The 8 Year Affair
One of the leaders of the new generation of Jamaican conscious artists. This, his second album, is darker, heavier and more introspective compared to his debut album The 7 Year Itch.