One Love, One Life
November 20, 2012
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 4/5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 5|
Fans of the King of Jamaican Lovers Rock had to wait four long years between the release of 2008's "Moment In Time" and his just released dbl cd "One Love, One Life". Not really exceptional, because iconic reggae singer Beres Hammond has always taken his time to produce a new album in order to preserve quality. Hugh Beresford Hammond aka Beres Hammond, who is widely regarded as Jamaica's most prolific crooner, consistently scored hits in each of the past four decades and has garnered a large international fan base.
Beres Hammond's 26th studio album entitled "One Love, One Life" consists of two discs, each filled with 10 tracks. As the title more or less indicates it's "One Love" on the first disc meaning the listener is treated to lovers rock sounds from beginning to end. Disc two stands for "One Life" and emphasizes on socially conscious and empowering tunes, a side of the singer with the beautiful "whiskey grained" vocal delivery that has always been under-exposed. The album, produced by Beres Hammond himself (with a few co-productions done with Donovan Germain, "Bulby" York and Michael Fletcher) features an impressive line-up of musicians including Kirk Bennett, Sly & Robbie, Winston "Bopee" Bowen, Steven Marsden, Robbie Lyn, Lloyd "Obeah" Denton, Errol "Flabba" Holt, Dean Fraser, Christopher Birch, Style Scott, Donald "Danny Bassie" Dennis, Dalton Browne, and Franklyn "Bubbler" Waul, to name only a few.
In contrast with previous Beres Hammond albums, it took us quite a few spins to get a decent impression of this collection. Of course, at first listening there are always a couple of tunes that instantly grab your attention and cause some excitement, but there are also others that have to grow on you or simply are less appealing. However, this has rarely been the case with previous releases of Beres Hammond albums, so it's a bit surprising to experience that "One Love, One Life" doesn't do what we expected this dbl cd would do, namely making it a joy to listen to all these new Beres Hammond songs. Can't exactly explain what caused this, although qualifications like 'too mellow', 'big people's music' or 'having too much crossover feel' came to mind. So, it's obvious we were going through mixed feelings.
As said, the first disc contains 10 tracks that deal with the romantic side of life. The irresistible ska-fueled "Can't Waste No Time" is the strong opener, Beres Hammond at his very best. Next drops the superb "No Candle Light", recorded for Penthouse and clearly one of the highlights of this disc. The instantly recognizable Taxi sound of Sly & Robbie comes to the fore on the matching "In My Arms". In all a great opening part of this disc. What then follows doesn't manage to maintain the high quality of the first three tracks throughout with the exception of the outstanding "Lonely Fellow" and the gorgeous "My Life". The other tunes certainly aren't mediocre or even weak efforts, but being 'nice' and 'decent' simply isn't good enough when it comes to Beres Hammond.
Fast forward to the second disc, which starts with the solid "Still Searching" and "Don't You Feel Like Dancing". The latter is a cheerful tune, but it's lyrical content is another story. The title track, "One Love, One Life", across a relick of Studio One's classic "Love Me Forever" riddim from Carlton & The Shoes, is truly outstanding. The same goes for "You Stand Alone", which also comes on a revitalized version of a Studio One riddim. Big tune!! Also worthwhile giving a spin more than once is "Can't Make Blood Out Of Stone", a tune that grows on you. Both "Not Made Of Steel" and "Family" are solid efforts worth hearing. The "One Life" selection is rounded off by the only combination tune featured on this set, the gospel-tinged "I Humble Myself".
Beres Hammond's "One Love, One Life" certainly has its moments and will surely find its way to his many fans.