From August Town
Duane Stephenson
VP Records-Walboomers Music
September 27, 2007

Track list
  1. Ghetto Pain
  2. Misty Morning
  3. Love Inna Di City feat. Anthony B & Mystic Routes
  4. Fairy Tale
  5. Cottage In Negril
  6. Exhale feat. Tarrus Riley
  7. I Don't Need Your Love
  8. Without You
  9. August Town
  10. Chant Love
  11. Mr. B
  12. Heaven Will Rise Up
  13. The Great World feat. Rochelle Bradshaw
  14. Dream Weaver
  15. Fool For You
Rate this album!
Cast your vote below.

Essential -Votes: 190-
Very Good -Votes: 56-
Good -Votes: 13-
Average -Votes: 3-
Disappointing -Votes: 1-
A Waste Of Time -Votes: 2-

Total votes : 265
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 4/5 Production : 4/5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
Even though dreadlocked singer/songwriter Duane Stephenson may be a new name to many reggae fans, he's not a rookie in the business. In 1997 he not only became the leadsinger of the all-male Jamaican singing group 2-Isis, but was also responsible for penning most of 2-Isis' earlier works. His songwriting skills were soon recognised which led to writing songs for top artists like Luciano, Morgan Heritage and most notably, Jah Cure, for whom he (co-)wrote the mega hit "Reflections".

Although 2-Isis went on to be one of the most recognised vocal groups in Jamaica with a few notable singles -- including "Cooyah", "Ghetto Pain", "Why" and "Try Again" -- under the belt, Duane Stephenson decided to leave the group at the end of 2006 to embark a solo career. He has also been trying his hand in production under the guidance of well respected saxophonist and musical director Dean Fraser and the Cannon family, co-produced tunes for Jah Cure's album "Reflections" and has done work on Taurus Riley's album "Parables" and Mystic Routes' "Journey".

Now there's the worldwide release of his From August Town" set as part of a two album deal with VP Records. On his first full length album release Duane Stephenson comes up with romance and reality themes set to one drops and acoustic riddims, reminiscent of Tarrus Riley's best-selling "Parables" album. This is not really surprising when one considers his close relationship with new singing sensation Tarrus Riley and the involvement of Dean 'Sax' Fraser as musician and producer.

The sufferer's tune "Ghetto Pain" is a great opener and besides that one of our favourite reggae tunes since we first heard it as 7" single from 2-Isis. "They don't know what it is to face real ghetto pain, to face real ghetto pressure." Can play this track over and over again!! Great riddim track with a wicked hook and on top real nice sax parts by Dean Fraser. The slow-paced "Misty Morning" starts out nice, but actually fails to keep you involved till the very end. "Love Inna Di City" is a powerful message tune done in collaboration with Mystic Routes and Anthony B, who adds an appealing dancehall vibe to this song. Then again a complete change of the mood with the lover's song, "Fairy Tale", on which he accompanies himself on acoustic guitar. It's one of the weakest tracks around and definitely not our cup of tea. Duane Stephenson's version of Tyrone Taylor's all-time classic "Cottage In Negril" is nicely done and perfectly fits the overall mood of the album.

The next three songs, "Exhale", "I Don't Need Your Love", and "Without You" don't leave a serious impression as they are rather mediocre efforts. Luckily he returns to form with "August Town", a strong track with great lyrics. Also "Chant Love" is a great tune to hear and the same goes for "Mr. B", an 'anti-Babylon', anti-police brutality song, which is underpinned by a truly wicked rendition of Prince Alla's "Stone" riddim. "Heaven Will Rise Up" and also the combination with Rochelle Bradshaw, "One Great World", are solid efforts with positive lyrics. "Dream Weaver" is the second weak track of this set, while "Fool For You" is a decent lover's rock tune across an appealing riddim.

Duane Stephenson is a singer with beautiful but rough, edged vocals, who certainly has the potential to follow in Tarrus Riley's track, but therefore he needs a more balanced (second) album and, of course, an international smash hit.