March 18, 2013
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4/5|
The highly anticipated debut album of Jah9 is finally out on the streets and it's a great one. Produced by Rory Gilligan of Jamaica's well known sound system Stone Love, this 12 track album has something most reggae albums released in recent years lack. Musically it's both refreshing and outstanding from beginning to end, lyrically there's no room for superfluous or meaningless phrases, and the production standard is of very high quality throughout.
Jah9 was born Janine Elizabeth Cunningham in Montego Bay, Saint James on May 23, 1983, With a Baptist minister for a father and a teacher and social worker for a mother, young Janine lived much of her childhood in the town of Falmouth, Trelawny. On moving to Kingston at the dawn of 1991, she was immediately struck by chaos disguised as order in Jamaica's capital city. Concepts of community were seemingly misrepresented by political endeavors. It was only a matter of time after leaving University that she would sacrifice financial security to satisfy her true passion. As a cultural activist Jah9 is committed to youth empowerment and nation building through Arts and Culture. She uses her voice to call attention to the abusers of power and also highlights the need for spiritual growth in everyone, including herself.
Jah9, who developed her sound in the underground poetry/live music scene, first drew attention with her 2011 released musical project, the 9 track free downloadable "9MM-Message Music", which included the Donovan "Don Corleon" Bennett produced single "Warning". Besides that it also featured the songs "Mr. Right" and "Intentions", which both are included on this "New Name" album as well (with "Mr. Right" being presented in a different version). The aforementioned single "Warning" received heavy spins on local and international radio and was voted 'SONG OF THE YEAR' by German based RIDDIM magazine.
Musically this "New Name" set has a very distinctive vibe as it expertly blends conscious reggae riddims with classic jazz grooves and dub overtones. Thus it isn't a real surprise that she has been credited as the creator of the "Jazz on Dub" genre. The glorious album opener and title track "New Name", a song that celebrates His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia - the Rasta patriarch, instantly makes clear that this is reggae music of the highest order delivered by a singer/songwriter whose vocal delivery is crystal clear and powerful, actually the perfect instrument for her hard hitting lyrical prowess. From there it goes from strength to strength with all winners, no fillers. It's almost impossible to point out the standouts, because each and every song is a gem in its own right. Personal favourites include "Intentions", the awesome "Mr Preacherman" on a wicked new version of the "Rockfort Rock" riddim, the exceptional herb tune "Taken" with a guest appearance of Cedric Myton of The Congos, and the album closer "Inner Voice".
With this compelling album, Jah9 and Rory "Stone Love" Gilligan show that it's possible to take Jamaica produced contemporary reggae music into a refreshing new direction, which has been long overdue. This modern milestone is well worth investing both time and money. Ignore at your peril!!