Hope & Doubt
Taj Weekes and Adowa
AlphaPocket Records/Jatta Entertainment
May 30, 2005

Track list
  1. Lonesome In Babylon
  2. Scream Out Mellow
  3. Jagged
  4. Sad
  5. Cold
  6. MPLA
  7. Blue
  8. Crash
  9. Mysterious
  10. Life
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4 Backing : 4 Production : 4 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
Born the youngest of ten children, Taj Weekes grew up on the Caribbean island of St Lucia. He became aware of the disparity between the well-heeled tourists and the striving locals early on. Religion and music were the two main salvations for the Weekes family, St. Lucians of Ethiopian descent, and the songs they learned at church often followed them home. "It was like a Ethiopian Von Trapp family. Someone was always singing in some corner of the house or entertaining the rest of us after a loaf of bread and a hot tea," explains Weekes. While church music played a big role in Taj's life, so did the sounds that emanated from his stereo-everything from The Mighty Sparrow to Paul Simon to Nat King Cole. Taj himself began singing by age five and started composing his own calypso music by the time he was eleven years old.
When his role model and older brother Desmond, nicknamed MPLA, discovered Rastafari, Taj quickly had his own spiritual awakening. Yet, by his late teens, Taj became found the island's 238 square miles became too stifling and grew weary of its rigid dichotomies. He headed for the vast, opportunity-filled North American mainland to pursue a music career-first to Toronto and then to New York, where he found his permanent home. Taj formed a band and named it Adowa, in tribute to his Ethiopian grandfather and to an 1896 battle in which Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II thwarted off Italian invaders, a milestone in Rastafari history. He has been cultivating a following in New York City ever since, singing his stories at venues such as S.O.B.'s, Lion's Den, the Apollo and Irving Plaza.
With the debut album "Hope and Doubt", the artist takes listeners back to the Caribbean of his childhood and here, against an island-beat backdrop, he tells his autobiographical tales, both tragic and hopeful. He tells tales of poverty, oppression, hopelessness and rejection, counterweighing them each with a message of Rastafari faith and spirituality. The album takes you back to the days of finely-crafted classic roots reggae with "live" played backing. The songs are underpinned by easy skanking one-drop riddims. The closing track Life includes a bonus track called Mellow Lulabies.
On the track MPLA Weekes offers a poignant goodbye to his activist older brother, nicknamed MPLA for being famously vocal about the Angolan liberation movement, who was mysteriously killed after he discovered Rastafari. Yet the album never disintegrates into a mere chronicle of the hard-knock life. The big horns on the upbeat Sad declare war on apathy, offering a “brighter song” in place of “another day another shrug/down in the ghetto.” The danceable tune Scream Out Mellow is a passive resistance anthem in disguise, while on the other hand Mysterious is a song of faith and hope. The album is a true treat for all roots followers but he also knows how to write and perform an appealing lovers rock tune. Check out Cold and enjoy !
The album is produced by Taj Weekes, engineered by Joe Blaney (Lauren Hill, The Clash, Prince) and mastered by Alan Silverman (Norah Jones, The Kinks Chaka Khan). Musicians on board are Rads Desiree, Shelton Garner, Conrad Serapin, Ari Matsumoto, Bunny Cunningham, Jaques Schwarts Bart, Antonio Dangerfield.
A nice rootical debut set !

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Check out these two songs from the album :

Taj Weekes & Adowa - Sad          Taj Weekes & Adowa - Jagged

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