Jamaican singer Ras Daniel Ray – since a decade expatriate in France – met up with French reggae band Tu Shung Peng in the late 90’s and a close creative collaboration started and resulted in him voicing a bunch of tunes on their albums Around Tu Shung Peng and Trouble Time.
But this wasn’t Ras Daniel Ray’s first recordings. As a teenager he performed for three Jamaican sound systems. Starting with Echo Tone Night Rider and then moving on to work with Killamanjaro and Jahlovemusik. In 1993 his debut singles Bubbling Pot and Jamaica Nice was put out produced by veteran Harry J. These recordings were followed by singles for Mafia & Fluxy and Reggae On Top.
His debut album Ray of Light is however recorded together with Tu Shung Peng and contains 13 fresh tunes in the traditional roots reggae vein. Jazz and soul inspired live instrumentation, organic mixing and tasty horns arrangements are some of the main ingredients.
You can trace a hint of reggae legends Dennis Brown and Garnett Silk in Ras Daniel Ray’s tone. But his voice isn’t as powerful and sounds a bit thin at times. Lyrically he also lies close to conscious reggae singers – spirituality, equality, love and repatriation are themes Ras Daniel Ray sounds comfortable with.
Highlights include the pleasantly skanking Deliver Us, the soulful Same Dream and Lesson the Ants, especially the dub breakdown towards the end of the song. Also don’t miss out on the hidden dub version of Trust in Jah with its echo laid melodica floating in and out the mix.
Ray of Light is a well-crafted roots album that probably appeals to fans of classic reggae music.