UK singer Winston Reedy was part of The Cimarons in the 70’s and early 80’s, a band that made the excellent roots album On the Rock. When the band split up Winston Reedy went solo and released a bunch of very successful lovers tunes, including Dim the Light and Paradise in Your Eyes.
Now he’s back where it all started – roots reggae. Make a Change is his brand new album. It’s done in collaboration with French band The Donkey Jaw Bone, who last year worked with Derajah on his debut set Paris is Burning.
Make a Change is in the same meditative rootsy vein. Its 15 tracks are mostly based on original live recorded riddims with sublime horns arrangements. But compared to the Derajah set it has one big difference. Winston Reedy himself.
He is a very competent vocalist. He sings with confidence, his tone is gentle and he sounds laid-back. It’s soothing and natural.
Winston Reedy also shows his versatility in Thy Kingdom Come, where he takes on a more deejay influenced approach accompanied by an intense flute.
Make a Change should appeal to roots romancers worldwide, and is currently available as digital download and CD.
I caught Derajah live at Uppsala Reggae Festival in 2009. He was part of the Inna de Yard All Stars that toured Europe that summer.
But I had no idea who he was at the time. I recognized him later that year when I picked up his Who Yeah Yah from the album Earl “Chinna” Smith & Idrens Vol. 2. I soon also picked up his cut on the Lovebird riddim.
Now – some five years after his Fight Against on the Lovebird riddim – his debut album has hit the streets.
Paris is Burning is a straight up roots reggae album with conscious, sometimes autobiographical lyrics, put together with French band Donkey Jaw Bone and recorded in both Paris and Jamaica using mostly analogue equipment.
Derajah’s dark, rugged and sometimes strained style of singing or singjaying doesn’t instantly grab you, and it takes a number of listens to get used to. He is in the same vein as Fantan Mojah’s thick baritone, but without his powerful vibrato. He nonetheless sings with confidence and versatility.
Donkey Jaw Bone is a competent and imaginative backing band with a tendency towards being a bit slick or polished. It contrasts against Derajah’s rough styled vocals. And it works pretty well.
Paris is Burning is a grower, and I had to push repeat several times before I really started to enjoy it. But it was definitely worth the effort.