The same day as Etana released her new album Reggae Forever another superb Jamaican songstress dropped a new album. I’m talking about Diana Rutherford – daughter of singer Michael Rutherford – who is not as well-known as Etana, but both have truly powerful voices.
Better Days is her second album and the follow-up to Ghetto Princess released in 2011. The sets don’t have much in common musically, other than Diana Rutherford’s voice. Where Ghetto Princess was urban and R&B-oriented, Better Days is traditional reggae with grand arrangements and an organic feel thanks to the recording process and live instrumentation.
Diana Rutherford sings with the attitude and confidence of diva. Listen to a cut like Strong Black Woman, especially the two last minutes, or the version of Jackie Wilson’s soul standard (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher. The standout track is however the uplifting and gospel-infused Smile On My Face.
Better Days might have an audio quality slightly below par, which is unfortunate since it’s a very mature and sophisticated set. And if your curious about the recording process – check this documentary on Youtube.
Diana Rutherford has made some excellent efforts on French producer SherKhan’s riddims in the past years. Now the pair has made the album Ghetto Princess together, an album that assembles 16 urban tunes.
But first things first. Ghetto Princess is neither a straight reggae nor a straight dancehall album. This is a popish RnB album with some notable exceptions. The dancehall excursion Hot Gyal is one such.
Ghetto Princess is rather in the same vein as Jason Mraz or Bruno Mars. But with a lot more attitude.
It’s radio friendly, stylish and often with infectious hooks and bass lines, even if the riddims and beats at times are minimal. Just listen to Caged on the Sufferah riddim.
Diana Rutherford sings with a sexy diva approach and with authority. She’s at her best when sounding fierce and angry, as in Beware, where she warns that your best friends are your worst. Or in the straight gospel tune The Treasure with its grand chorus and harmonies.
This album will probably disappear under mainstream radio’s radar. And that’s a shame. Several of the tunes would most likely appeal to a young urban audience that is continually fed with the latest Nicki Minaj, Flo Rida and Keyshia Cole.