January 26, 2017
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 5|
Around 2011 the 'Reggae Revival Movement' - a term suggested by the young Jamaican cultural activist and writer Gavin Hutchinson aka Dutty Bookman - started to make waves in Jamaica and on a global scale. 'Reggae Revival' is actually a cultural movement involving all sources of artistic expression such as film and literature, but with music at the forefront. Artists like Chronixx, Protoje, Kabaka Pyramid, Jesse Royal, and Dre Island were very well received because they brought back the positive conscious vibe of roots reggae music. In the past five years or so they became household names among reggae fans world wide. Besides these artists, 'Reggae Revival' also saw the emergence of female artists with distinct voices like Jah9, Xana Romeo, and Kelissa.
After the release of her "Rebel In Disguise EP" in 2012, Kelissa now comes up with a full length album entitled "Spellbound". It's an eleven track collaboration between the singer's own record label Anbessa Music and Natural High Music, known for their ethereal reggae blends. Involved in the creation of the riddims for the soulful singer's album were musicians like Nambo Robinson on trombone, his son Nnamdi Robinson on lead guitar, Wayne Armond on rhythm guitar, Kazemde George on saxophone, Everald "Stingray' Gray on trumpet & flugle and Hectar Lewis on percussion, while mixing engineers included James 'Bonzai' Caruso, Jamar 'Chronixx' McNaughton, Claude 'Weakhand' Reynolds and Gregory Morris.
"Spellbound", which consists of six full length songs, three relatively long interludes and two dubs, highlights Kelissa's sweet and captivating vocals. In her self-penned songs she touches a variety of themes; womanhood, spirituality, sensuality, roots and culture, knowledge, and self-awareness. Included are previously released singles like the equally sweet and hard-hitting "Best Kept Secret" and "How Many More", a thought-provoking acoustic ballad about mankind. Of course, the album also includes brand new songs like the title track "Spellbound", "Take Your Time", "Topsy Turvy", and "Wake Up and Live", the collaboration with Jesse Royal. In particular "Spellbound", which isn't a pure reggae tune, needs several spins to appreciate it to the fullest and to discover its beauty. The powerful "Topsy Turvy" incorporates that typical 'Reggae Revival' sound, an excellent roots piece worth hearing over and over again. Vocally Kelissa here reminds of Jah9, showing that she's able to adjust her vocal style when needed. "Take Your Time" has a completely different mood. It's laid-back lovers rock, with Kelissa singing with a truly sweet voice. "Wake Up And Live" provides real reggae vibes, with both Kelissa and Jesse Royal being in good shape. Most of the times interludes don't add that much to an album, but certainly that isn't the case here. They are cleverly done and are a good introduction to the next tune, a kind of bridging the gap to make it possible to continue in a perfect way. At the end the listener is treated to "Best Kept Secret Dub" and "Spellbound Dub", dub versions distinctive of Natural High's unique sound.
Kelissa's "Spellbound" album is a great listening experience when you open your ears and mind!