Glad that Jamaican falsetto singer Courtney John is back on the reggae track after venturing into a more electronic and eclectic sonic territory with The Courtney John Project.
His new album Ecosystem finds him in well-known territories singing over soulful and vintage sounding riddims produced by Brimstone and Inity from France, a duo that created the beautiful cover album Reggae Loves Soul.
The first single taken from Ecosystem – Yes We Are – sums up the set very well with its catchy melody and warm audio landscape. And this album might just be Courtney John’s best album to date. His velvety and heartfelt voice flows like a river over the well-crafted rhythms. Highly recommended.
I’ve recently spent some time listening to The Courtney John Project’s hard-hitting debut album Future. And if someone told me that this album was the work of smooth falsetto singer Courtney John and lovers rock giant Beres Hammond’s daughter The Wizard, I’d tell him or her to get the hell out of here. But this dubstep-flavored album is made by these two masterminds together with Grammy Award winning instrumentalist Steven “Lenky” Marsden, the one responsible for the ground-breaking Diwali riddim a few years back.
This hypnotic album showcases what the members describe as a brand new genre called rootstronic. It’s a little bit of everything with pounding drums and heavy bass lines – dub, roots, electronica, grime and hip-hop.
Future sounds like it has been produced and recorded in an abandoned industrial building in central Kingston. The beats are grim and intense with bodybuilders beating the drums and hitting the bass with sheer power. It’s the evil and lost soundtrack to movies such as The Matrix and Blade Runner. It is the future.
The ethereal voices of Courtney John and The Wizard echo between the thick walls of sound. Their version of Errol Dunkley’s Black Cinderella is a stroke of genius and so are the two cuts that use the haunting organ from the immortal Truths and Rights riddim and the schizophrenic Very Special with its bombastic tom-tom drums taken from the battlefields in Lord of the Rings.
Think that there isn’t any experimental and innovative music coming from Jamaica anymore? That all music from Jamaica is about chanting down Babylon or showing off a brand new Benz or Beamer? Think again. When you’ve listened to Future you’ll feel like you’ve been run over by a train.
To be honest, it wasn’t instant love for me. But then again, the future is usually intimidating. You need to get acclimatized and then you’ll learn to understand its beauty and truly appreciate it.
Falsetto vocalists have always been popular in Jamaica, and some of the earliest and most acclaimed ones include the late Slim Smith, Cedric Myton, Pat Kelly, Cornell Campbell and Junior Murvin.
A newcomer in this great genre of singers is Courtney John, who just dropped his fourth album From Letters to Words. It’s a ten track ode to 60’s rocksteady spiced with tender 70’s soul and a hint of singer/songwriter.
Courtney John weighs every word, every syllable, carefully, and his smooth falsetto is light as a feather. His hearty lyrics deal mostly with romance and his longing for intimacy.
Included are fresh originals and relicks, and also a cover of Chi-Lites 1971 Billboard chart topper Have You Seen Her.
This is a contemporary reggae and rocksteady album with a lazy Sunday morning feeling.