September 24, 2011
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4||Backing : 4||Production : 4||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4|
Kevin Kinsella (lead vocal, rhythm guitar, percussion) is best known as founding member of the band John Brown's Body. At the age of 15 he started a group called Tribulations. After the release of two albums the band split up and Kevin decide to form a band with a more rootsy sound. When John Brown's Body formed upstate in Ithaca 10 years ago, the group's name wasn't their only backward-looking trait. Inspired by classic Jamaican reggae acts, the band played an immaculate re-creation of their vintage rock-steady sound. JBB's precision and musical authenticity made it a hit on the college circuit, but West Indian fans never really accepted the sound as "real" reggae. Over the years the band has rejected the notion of playing anything like a pure strain of reggae. He set up his own independent label, I-Town Records and recorded with the mysterious and prolific roots reggae outfit 10 Ft. Ganja Plant. He started a solo career and released two albums. On his current (third) album "Great Design" he expands his sonic palette with elements of folk, rock and funk, while maintaining his roots in reggae.
He's a gifted songwriter who is quite capable of delivering a self penned album without covers, but he has decided to include the Johnny Cash hit Ring Of Fire here. He changed the tempo drastically, and added a few bluesy guitar riffs and thus made the song his own. Not a sign of reggae, just a quality do-over of a country classic. The same goes for No Battlefield, lyrically a small masterpiece, musically referring to the rock sound of the 90's. The acoustic guitar plays an important role in the title song. It's a beautiful non-reggae ballad, complete with cello. The sound of Faith reminds us of some early Police tunes. Nice tune!
One might wonder "Is there also reggae on the album?" There is! All That I Have gives us a sweet lovers tune with fine backing vocals from the Lucente Sisters. The acoustic guitar is also present in Lovers In A Time, a fine swinging reggae tune! Turn It Around is the closing track of the album. A synth based tune, with a nice vocal arrangement.
To be honest, if you're in for an album of strictly reggae tunes, skip this one. On the other hand it's certainly not wrong to check out the diversity of Kevin Kinsella's latest album, as he's a fine musician and a gifted songwriter.