UK roots veterans Paul Fox and Brother Culture have joined forces on a new combination album called Heartical Connection, a ten track set – 20 when adding the ten bonus dubs – that is slightly different than expected.
You have the usual ground-shaking bass lines and intense keys, but Heartical Connection also includes a few more lightweight and catchy cuts. Good Time is a joyous and bright celebration of life and the title track is mellow and summery with breezy keys and infectious guitar. The only thing hinting about these roots stalwarts are the added effects.
Then there’s Seat of God. Probably the greatest surprise. It’s an ethereal dancehall version of Amazing Grace with an angelic chorus and mean and lean toasts from Brother Culture in the verses.
Paul Fox and Brother Culture have a good chemistry and complement each other very well – Paul Fox with his dramatic and light singing style and Brother Culture with his stylish delivery.
UK roots and dub outfit Shades of Black return with a new album after a six year hiatus. Break Free follows their Michael Rose produced albums Great Expectations and Dub Expectations, released in 2008.
Shades of Black formed in the 90s and have put a number of solid roots numbers and their new album is no exception. It collects a hefty 18 tracks and the vocal talents of Paul Fox – who is one of the founders – along with Saimn-I, Jimmy Ranks, Jahman Dan and Michael Rose. Seven of the cuts are dub versions and one is an instrumental with horns provided by Moonshine Horns, a duo that deliver brass on several tracks.
Break Free is solid and tough UK roots with a mix of programming and live instrumentation. Michael Rose handles the microphone on the haunting Lion in the Flag, which has a synth reminiscent to the X-Files, and Paul Fox’ dramatic, soft and mystical singing floats nicely over a powerful steppers riddim on album opener Simmer Down.
Shades of Black has made an album echoing from the 90s when UK roots was the order of the day.
Veteran UK singer, producer and musician Paul Fox may not be a household name to the casual reggae fan, but he has been around for 20 years touring and recording with producers and artists such as Nick Manasseh, Alpha & Omega, Rod Taylor and Michael Rose.
He has worked extensively with renowned UK percussionist, session player, producer and chanter Jonah Dan, who contributes with his bongo skills on Paul Fox’ latest album Hold Tight.
This 16 track – ten on the LP edition – showcase set, where each vocal is followed by its dub counterpart, is a fine slice of atmospheric 90’s tinged UK roots and dub. Paul Fox’ soft, whispering voice contrasts nicely with the pounding and pulsating drum and bass as well as the echo-laid guitars and keyboard. To soften up the big bad sound there’s also bright and melancholic flute, harp and melodica added to the instrumentation.
Highlights include the smoky Trouble In the World and the dramatic Time For A Change and First Light. Two lyrically uplifting tracks with somber melodies sounding like they’re made for giving workers an extra boost and fighting spirit just before the revolution.