Jah Is My Navigator
VP Records - Groove Attack
February 12, 2008
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4/5|
Luciano - which means the
bearer of light - is undeniably an ambassador for Jah, who's always committed
to the survival of roots reggae. Since the release of his landmark CD in 1995,
"Where There Is Life", succeeded by more than 40 full-length albums that have
garnered tremendous acclaim, "Jah Is My Navigator", his latest release on VP,
is going to be one of THE cultural releases of 2008. Justifiably known to many
as The Messenger, Luciano, born Jepther Washington McClymont in Davey Town,
Jamaica on December 20, 1974, was raised singing in the choir at an Adventist
church and as Luciano grew older, he began rocking the mic at local dances and
youth clubs. At the age of 17 he made his first recordings for producer Earl
Hughes, but it was with Sky High from Mau Mau Productions that he got the
opportunity to release his work on an album, although under the name Luciana.
His Sky High produced material can be found on two albums: "Stuck On You (a
combination album with another young singer called Presley) and "Don't Get
Crazy". After working with Sky High he moved on to Castro Brown's "New Name"
label before he teamed up with reggae vet Freddie McGregor, which resulted in
the release of an album entitled "Shake It Up Tonight" aka "After All".|
However, his real breakthrough came when he met Xterminator label head and producer Phillip 'Fatis' Burrell. It was a series of trend-defying Xterminator singles that pushed his career in the right direction as they made his name and fame grow. It actually resulted in the release of his first Xterminator album "Moving Up". In the years that followed Luciano rose to the top and undoubtedly became one of the major forces in developing modern cultural music. Luciano's associaton with Phillip 'Fatis' Burrell and musicians like Sly & Robbie, The Firehouse Crew and Dean Fraser played an important role in Luciano's stages of development, which ultimately led to his signing with Island-Jamaica. This latest album is produced by the legendary Dean Fraser, who has always been closely associated with the best of Luciano's (Xterminator) releases and who was playing a leading role on releases like 1997's "Messenger" and 1999's "Sweep Over My Soul" and uses some of the same backings as the recently released albums "August Town" by Duane Stephenson and "Parables" by Tarrus Riley who both contribute some of their vocal and songwriting skills to this album as well.
The opening track "For I" immediately makes clear what this album is all about, great singing by Luciano, over modern roots riddims skillfully produced by Dean Fraser, with his singing even compensating for the in my opinion unnecessary guitar solos, followed by the brilliant (Tarrus Riley penned) title track "Jah Is My Navigator" over a great horn driven backing and the brilliant reflective ballad "Darkness", penned by Duane Stephenson. The upful "No Evil" has got tremendous potential to become a hit tune and undoubtedly the brilliant take on Peter Tosh (& the Wailers)' Studio One anthem "I'm The Tuffest" in combination with Peter's son Andrew Tosh will become the tune most heard on the airwaves.
On "Never Give Up" Luciano once more very convincingly spreads his positive vibes, before he delivers the beautiful "Trod Out" over Prince Allah's seminal 'Stone'-riddim (that was also used for Duane Stephenson's "Mr. B") and the instant classic (longing for the more peaceful days that once were) "Sweet Jamaica" over a great update of the seminal 'Full Up' a.k.a. 'Pass The Koutchie'-riddim. With his take on "Jah Live", Bob Marley's superb tune from 1975, of which the riddim was used for Duane Stephenson hit song "August Town", Luciano rightfully fortifies his place in a tradition that the Wailers once brougt to the four corners of the world. It's followed by the excellent lovers tune telling a lady "Wish You Were Mine" in very fine style over a version of Beres Hammond (& Willie Lindo)'s 'Groovy Little Thing'-riddim.
Another lovers tune follows then, the only by an acoustic guitar backed "Paradise Last" combination with (also on stage) backing singer Rochelle Bradshaw (daughter of Anthony Bradshaw and niece of Devon Bradshaw) who also starred on Duane Stephenson's album, before returning to his Messenjah role for his tribute to the African nations and complaint against Babylon trying to deny "African Liberty" and the wonderful "Wise Up Youth" over Jackie Mittoo's 'Hot Milk'-riddim, that perfectly suits his delivery and message here. This tune is followed by the comforting "Jah Canopy" and the absolutely stunning ganja-ballad (as there is no other way to describe this wonderful spiritual tune) "Hard Herbs" closing a very satisfying Luciano release. This is the Luciano album that every roots aficionado hoped he would record this year, a must have for all roots fans that will also be able to grab the attention of the occasional reggae listeners.