Jamaican vocalist Jah Cure returns to a more roots-oriented sound on his latest album The Cure, a 13 track set where he blends reality checks with bedroom ballads. It’s a well-rounded album influenced by roots reggae and lovers rock fused with elements from R&B and pop.
Jah Cure is a controversial artist and did not have the typical way to stardom. He had just begun his musical career in the late 90s when he was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison for rape and possession of firearm. When in jail he recorded new material and his popularity started to rise and he became something of a folk hero. In 2007 he was released and since then he has released four albums True Reflections… A New Beginning, The Universal Cure, World Cry and now The Cure.
He has a golden voice and on World Cry he aimed for crossover success collaborating with artists like Rick Ross and Jazmine Sullivan. That album was a mishmash of hip-hop, pop, R&B and reggae. He strayed and lost his way, but on The Cure he has found his way back to his roots.
The Cure finds Jah Cure at his most passionate and emotive. His chart-topping cover of John Legend’s All of Me is heartfelt and slick, while nyabinghi-tinged album opener No Friend of Mine is powerful aiming straight at the chest. On Corruption he successfully battles a dubby riddim, Stay With Me comes with militant horns and Rasta contains a pulsating bass line along with a catchy sing-along chorus.
In the late 90s Jah Cure was a leading light in reggae, but since he was released from prison it seems that he has struggled to find his sound. The Cure collects several attractive ballads, but balances those with edgier cuts. With this new set Jah Cure has created a sound that might attract both crossover fans and reggae purists alike.
Jah Cure’s sixth album World Cry was slated for release more than a year ago, and for some reason it was postponed several times. Now however it’s finally here, and it shows Jah Cure in a different light compared to his previous albums. Where The Universal Cure – his fifth album – was reggae influenced by contemporary R&B, it’s the other way around with World Cry. This set is mostly contemporary R&B and electronic dance music spiced with dancehall and reggae.
Those who wanted Jah Cure to go back to his early hard roots reggae sound will be disappointed, but I guess no one really thought World Cry would be full of commitment to Rastafarian ideals set to dread and eerie beats.
Jah Cure mostly sings passionate love songs and his voice is as usual intimate and heartfelt, but also a bit whiny and tiresome. The electric beats are bombastic and the arrangements are lush and the producers have gone all in on several tracks, for example the title track which has gentle strings, a melancholic piano and an army-styled snare drum. It could have been recorded by Coldplay and suits any football stadium around the world.
The reggae tracks include a version of The Gladiators Mix Up and a cut of House of Riddim’s brilliant up-tempo riddim The Sensimillionaire. Best is however the heavyweight hip-hop and dubstep-tinged Like I See It with Mavado (the non-album version also features U.S. rapper Rick Ross). The mariachi trumpets in the chorus seem a little out of place though.
There was a time when Jah Cure was seen as one of the leading lights in roots reggae. But that was then, and this is now, and now he has travelled down the same path as Sean Paul. Hopefully this direction will be successful in the mainstream charts.
World Cry is now available on digital platforms. A CD version will be available in January.