Jamaican singer and musician Bryan Art’s new self-titled album is an odd one since eleven of its 13 tracks are lifted directly from his excellent debut album 20ten, released three years ago.
The new album is put out on a different label and only includes two new tracks – the hip-hop flavored Capleton combination Dem Fass and the haunting Warrior King duet New Day. Both are however also previously available, Dem Fass as a single and New Day on the Reggaeville riddim compilation.
This repackaging is a dirty and sneaky way of getting exposure of already available material and it would have been better if the label and its marketers would have been upfront with this. Luckily enough the set is solid, since the cocktail of refurbished vintage riddims and original material is first-rate. So is Bryan Art’s soulful and husky voice.
He’s also a prolific songwriter and has penned for acclaimed artists such as Luciano and Etana. He’s also an accomplished guitarist, member of the Firehouse Crew and leader of Bushman’s backing band the Grass Roots Band. In other words – he knows what he’s doing.
However, some of the strongest songs are left out this time, and the weakest one by far – the flat house influenced No Malice – is annoyingly still around.
The best way to learn more about Bryan Art’s tasteful sounds is to get the debut album and the two singles. That’s all you need for now.
Bryan Art is now available on CD and digital download.
Warrior King first came to international prominence with his chart-topping single Virtuous Woman in 2001. He was a breath of fresh air when he was part of breaking the bad man themed dancehall domination of the 90’s with his passionate and message oriented lyrics.
Another set of strong singles followed and helped to make a resurgence of roots reggae in the early 2000’s. His critically acclaimed debut album was put out in 2002 and was followed by Hold the Faith in 2005 and Love is in the Air in 2009. The latter didn’t make any great impact.
Tell Me How Me Sound is Warrior King’s fourth album, and his first together with producer and engineer Colin “Bulby” York, who has previously worked with a wide range of artists, including Madonna, Chaka Khan and Sean Paul. Other producers include Steely & Clevie and Sly & Robbie.
This 19 track set features mainly new recordings, and is in the same vein as Warrior King’s previous efforts – upful, at times trite, lyrics that deals with love and Rastafarian faith over mainly revitalized riddims recorded in a contemporary setting.
And just as Warrior King’s previous albums, this one contains too many tunes. 19 are in abundance. If he would have left out about five or six this album would have been much more consistent.
On both Girl and I’m in Love with You he’s at times off-key and Wanted is soaked with auto-tune to no great effect.
Still, there are several great songs included. Among the highlights are Oh What a Feeling on Frenchie’s Ashanti Warrior riddim, Melody (Tell Me How Me Sound) across the Midnight Hour riddim and the energetic dancehall flavored Barrington Levy duet I Can See it.
Warrior King continues to deliver his smooth, yet energetic, brand of contemporary lovers rock. He and his labels just need to choose tunes more carefully. Less is more as they say.