Italian singer Raphael returns with a new album following his 2013 solo debut Mind Vs Heart. He has been active on the reggae scene for about 15 years and has with his former band Eazy Skankers dropped two sets.
Reggae Survival is a strong follow up and much more cohesive than its predecessor which was somewhat more eclectic. This is straight up contemporary and uplifting roots reggae with live instrumentation – including a brass section supervised by legendary Jamaican sax maestro Dean Fraser – and infectious melodies.
The album and its 14 tracks, including four skits and one dub version, was recorded between Jamaica, the U.S. and Italy and produced by Don Sugar and Raphael supported by Italy’s own Bizzarri Records and France’s Irie Ites.
Raphael turns his eyes on social rights, human values and universal love. On Who Dem a Pree he and Lion D criticizes an emerging Big Brother society and on Joka Soundbwoy Raphael teams up with Triston Palma for a rendition of the latter’s Joker Smoker. Best of the bunch is however Sweet Motherland, with its strong appeal to Raphael’s African origin, along with Rise Up and A Place For Me.
Italy’s reggae scene has obviously lots of talent. Alborosie is the most well-known example, but others, like Raphael and Lion D, are gearing up to face a global audience too.