U.S. reggae powerhouse Easy Star Records – home to the successful Easy Star All-Stars – latest signing is New York City-based family quartet New Kingston; brothers Stephen Suckarie, Courtney Panton, Jr., Tahir Panton and their father Courtney Panton, Sr.
Kingston City is their third album and follows Kingston University released in 2013, a set that included the Black Uhuru-influenced album opener Life. Their new album is more consistent compared to their previous two sets, but they still manage to combine soulful vocal harmonies and bright melodies with pulsating bass lines.
The album, which hosts twelve tracks, leans heavily towards contemporary European roots reggae, and New Kingston are somewhat rougher compared to some of their U.S. peers. The set opens explosively with the up-tempo Today and the pace is high throughout the first four cuts. Then comes the deep and slow Honorable followed by the beautiful Kimie Miner combination You Are Mine with its infectious chorus and haunting keys.
The album is actually laced with several guest appearances and New Kingston is also joined by Tribal Seeds’ vocalists Maad T-Ray and E.N Young, The Wailing Souls, the late Sugar Minott and Sister Carol graces the 80s sounding Conquer Dem with her signature deejaying.
Kingston City – available everywhere except in Europe where it drops on February 23 – is well-crafted and definitely New Kingston’s best album to date and a strong addition to an otherwise often shallow U.S. reggae scene.