Tough Life
Junior Kelly
VP Records-Walboomers Music
November 15, 2005

Track list
  1. Tough Life
  2. Blaze
  3. Rasta Should Be Deeper
  4. Receive
  5. Love You Like That (Someone Loves You Honey) feat. J.C. Lodge
  6. Touch My Heart
  7. Hold The Faith feat. Dennis Brown
  8. Jah Give Me Strength
  9. Not I
  10. Youths Dem Nah Cool
  11. Satan Throne
  12. Loser
  13. Jam For A While
  14. Ease My Pain
  15. Dem Story
  16. The More I See Her
  17. Be Wise
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4 Backing : 4 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
Junior Kelly's latest album for VP Records is a seventeen track offering, "Tough Life", loaded with well known riddims and hit singles such as "Receive" as well as collaborations with J.C. Lodge and Dennis Brown. All the lyrics sung by Kelly on "Tough Life" were penned by him and they successfully showcase both his coarse sing-jay style and more mellowed romantic approach. Having been a big Junior Kelly fan and enjoyed the singles promoting the album I was expecting big things of this release and JK does not disappoint. This is undoubtedly his most accessible and consistent album to date.

The album hits the ground running with a dynamic title track which is swiftly followed by the aggressive track "Blaze" which utilises Pow Pow's "Blaze" Riddim, perhaps best known for Richie Spice's "Blood Again (The Way They Living)". These two excellent opening cuts are then bettered by my two favourite tracks, firstly the straightforward and uncompromising message of "Rasta Should Be Deeper" on the uplifting Roots Tonic Riddim and then the brilliantly sublime love song "Receive". The romantic mood of "Receive" is continued for the next two tracks and reappears again later on, with mixed success. The album's weakest track "Ease My Pain" sounds more like one of Sizzla's jazz-style experiments, however it is redeemed by the hugely enjoyable preceding tune, "Jam For A While". Virtually all of the remaining tracks offer something to the album as a whole, from the variety created with the rockier side displayed on the tracks "Satan Throne" and "Youth Dem Nah Cool", to the funky "Not I" and classic vibe of "Hold The Faith", with Dennis Brown, a remix of "Hold On To What You've Got".

I would highly recommend this release as one which serves up a remarkably steady stream of outstanding conscious roots music and heartfelt love songs. The album is packed with poignant lyrics, enduring themes and above all catchy and appealing songs that should appeal to reggae fans across the board. This offering sees Kelly start to truly fulfil his undoubted potential; hopefully "Tough Life" will represent a benchmark for future releases.