Break Free
Shades Of Black
Shades Of Black Records
CD / Digital Release
May 26, 2015

Track list
  1. Simmer Down feat. Paul Fox
  2. Simmer Dub
  3. Break Free feat. Paul Fox
  4. Got To Break Free feat. Saimn-I
  5. Break Free Dub
  6. Lion In The Flag feat. Michael Rose
  7. Lion In The Dub
  8. Full Belly Empty Heart feat. Paul Fox
  9. Full Belly Dub
  10. Trust In Jahovia feat. Jimmy Ranks
  11. Trust In Jahovia Dub
  12. Roots Rock feat. Moonshine Horns
  13. Conscious Life feat. Paul Fox
  14. Conscious Dub
  15. Leaving The City feat. Jahman Dan
  16. Dubbing The City
  17. Repent feat. Saimn-I
  18. Repent Dub
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 5
When PAUL FOX's name is brought up in discussion; humbleness, originality and forward vision sum up the description of this veteran UK Rootsman. Mr. Fox has been releasing truly progressive works for over two decades with the Roots collective known as SHADES OF BLACK. Their new album, "Break Free", is a blessed continuum of proper Roots music presented with a deep shade of progression. 2015 is another banner year with the just released "Life Is A Journey" EP (w/ Vernon Maytone) from Uniteam Music. Big things a gwaan so.

Paul Fox was captured by the vibrations in the late '80s avidly absorbing the heavyweight Sound Systems like Jah Shaka, Aba Shanti, Jah Observer and Manasseh. As a result, he created his own sound in 4 Track style from his home. In 1992, he cut his first 12" ("Writing On The Wall"/"African Mask") at Nick Manasseh's legendary Brixton studio. An instant classic, this led to a connection with Robert Tribulation (Good Times Sound System). They formed the Word, Sound And Power label/Sound System and released powerful platter and two albums with ROD TAYLOR! As a Sound System, they made a solid impact throughout Europe. By the mid '90s, Paul linked with veteran JONAH DAN and SHADES OF BLACK was formed. The heavy 12" "War And Peace" and a tasty Dub album were initial offerings. Paul set up Sound Business Studio (still operating) and formed a Roots alliance with such talents as guitarist Stuart Webb and vocalist Jimmy Ranks. In 2002, the superb "Sounds Of Time" set was released to wide acclaim. The Roots fraternity took notice; including the iconic Michael Rose (ex Black Uhuru frontman). Subsequently, "Great Expectations" and "Dub Expectations" were realized and are regarded as two classic albums. In constant demand, Paul joined ALPHA & OMEGA in 2008 and toured and recorded with them for a time. Since then, SHADES OF BLACK has released numerous works; including "Walls Of Jericho" (2009) and "Hold Tight" (2013).

"BREAK FREE" is the continuation of singers and players of instruments that have worked with Paul for many years.(Shades Of Black is the foundation of Paul and Jonah Dan but numerous talent has joined in). Recorded primarily at Sound Business Studio with exception of "Simmer Down" that was recorded/mixed by Fullness at Karnatone Studio. Paul-keys, melodica. Jahman Dan-percussion. Fullness (Gavin Sant)-drums, sax. Stuart Webb/Fellipe Sobral Loureiro-guitars. Moonshine Horns (Kristoes Von Hess/Jort Verdick) are a massive section who truly nice up studio and stage; especially Reggae Central Festival XL. Backing vox by Paul, Helen Fox, Ellie Fox, Saimn-I, Jimmy Ranks and Jonah Dan. Indeed a collective that reflects family with trust and belief in one another...

"Simmer Down" is bubbling hot. Over an enriching riddim, Paul evokes an emotional plea for people to ease up. He possesses a comforting delivery that's totally original with slight nuances of Martin Campbell. Superior mix and arrangement that's brought forward on "Simmer Dub". Fullness is well tight on drums and mixing board. Paul is Royal on the title track that brings forth memories of "Manasseh Meets The Equalizer" sessions. He flows in dynamic style vocally and his melodica and key work is that of a seasoned veteran. "Got To Break Free" shows the talent of chanter Saimn-I. Rapid fyah delivery with lyrics of intelligency. Top grade! "Break Free Dub" shows the absoluteness of Mr. Fox on the mixing board. Special cut here. Michael Rose is regal on "Lion In The Flag". He rides the textured riddim with grace and power; tuff all the way strong. The Dub is essential. Paul's keys, Fullness' taut kicks and Jonah's great bongos are intertwined just nice. Solid Dub theory that echoes originality and no boundaries. Paul's vocals on "Full Belly, Empty Heart" are humble yet so observant. Dash in some ethereal harmonies and this is an instant rewind. "Full Belly Dub" is a masterful Dubextravaganza that has a perfect blend of digital/live instrumentation. Paul's melodica is Pabloesque and Fullness' drum rolls are killer!

"Trust In Jahovia" is powerful work. Jimmy Ranks is a whopping great singer whose been an element of Shades Of Black since the start. Certainly one of the most ranking singers in Europe, this man deserves the upmost recognition. He rides the lilting riddim with ease and sense of truth. The Dub is hypnotic in nature and is a prime example of real Dub theory. "Roots Rock" is smashing! Moonshine Horns are flawless and the arrangements hark memories of Studio One glory days. Transition in wicked guitar work and this is the real deal. Totally forward and original! "Conscious Life" is intoxicating. Paul is an observant messenger and this track seems to be an original blueprint of his daily trod in Life. He has a special delivery that makes the listener feel at ease while getting a powerful message across. Cool and calm. "Conscious Dub" is peppered with delicious slices of melodica, drums, percussion and mixed well tight. "Leaving The City" displays the power of Jahman Dan (Jonah Dan). A superior vocalist with robust delivery that rides the crucial riddim with clarity and vision. Real Authentic Sound. The Dub fires on all cylinders with Jonah's bongos navigating through Paul's mixing mastery. Saimn-I blazes on "Repent". Chanting with purpose and authority, this man has control of the microphone stand! Total craftwork over a gorgeous riddim. The Dub is chronic, bionic and ionic. A mindblowing odyssey that resets the mindset.

SHADES OF BLACK's "Break Free" is a masterpiece on many levels. Paul Fox and his massively talented collective present us with a body of work that exemplifies progression, vision and passion for true music. Well known throughout Europe, this release has the power to have international appeal and acclaim. The calm sense of urgency beckons repeated listening! Paul Fox/Jonah Dan have been at it for a long time and this is the pinnacle of their hard and unwavering work. Don't hesitate on this exciting set, it's one you must get. Highest recommendation! GO DEH!!!