Blessings From Above
CD / Digital Release
October 10, 2016
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4||Production : 4||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 5|
Although Kingston, Jamaica born reggae warrior Carl McDonald released some truly great music like the Roy Francis produced roots killer "Back To Africa/Scuba Dub" (Jumbo Caribbean Disco, 1977), "This Love Inside", 1981), "Satan Soldiers On The Run" (Makdon, 1987) and "Babylon Tradition" (Makdon, 1987), he remained a relatively unknown reggae artist who didn't receive the recognition and appreciation he deserved.
In 1997, Carl McDonald aka Ramesses saw his first cd entitled "African Countries" released on the famous Studio One label. A remarkable achievement as it (probably) was the first - and last - time in the label's history that the music of an artist that wasn't recorded at the legendary Studio One and didn't feature any of their riddims appeared on Coxsone Dodd's famous record label. That "African Countries" was released under the flag of Studio One most likely was due to the fact that artist & executive producer Carl McDonald had been working on the album in affiliation with the legendary Sir Coxsone as co-producer. It then lasted 7 years before Carl McDonald released his sophomore cd entitled "World Crisis" on his own Makdon Music imprint.
And now, almost a decade after the release of his second studio album, the veteran singer is back on track with a brand new collection of tunes entitled "Blessings From Above". All songs included on this album are produced and arranged by Alvin Ewen (Steel Pulse's bass player for 22 years) and recorded at PALS ID Recording Studio & Dokta Jones Recording Studio in Birmingham, England. Alvin Ewen (drum programming, bass, keyboards, guitar, strings, percussion) together with musicians like Eugene Grey (guitar), Vincent Delano Mils (guitar), Carl Nembard (keyboards), Mikey Norton (keyboards) Jan Hawkesford (keyboards), Angus Jones (keyboards) James Renford (sax) have created mostly sophisticated reggae sounds with a crossover sensibility that perfectly suits Carl McDonald's smooth vocal delivery. Without any doubt such an album is candy for the ears of the mature listener, but it's also obvious that it will hardly excite the reggae fan who is fond of the artist's earliest recordings.
Opening things are two songs that deal with affairs of the heart, the infectious "I've Been Watching You" and the beautiful lovers lament "Seems Like A Long Time", plus "Country To Live", a nice song with a relaxing vibe. Next comes "Filled With Regrets", a story-telling song for which only keyboards and percussion are used, followed by the joyful sounding, but not really impressive "You Can Do It If You Try". Then the solid title track "Blessings From Above" leaves a far better impression and so do the compelling message tune "More Justice" and the entertaining "I Wanna Know" with its nice sax play and jazzy vibe. Before remixed versions of three tracks round off this album in a satisfying way, it's the awesome "Luv The Money" that goes on repeat. Big tune!
"Blessings From Above" is a well produced album with some real nice reggae grooves to fulljoy.