JonnyGo Figure – Crucial Moods
One thing that amazes, but never actually surprises me, is the bond that reggae music fosters between lovers of the genre. A connected family tree of ladies and gents that won’t hesitate to share, or “put someone on” to what’s fire. We also take umbrage to the war that is perpetually being waged on the music we adore so much. We love when it is recognized and given the adulation it so rightly deserves (see the Facebook Meta commercial banging the Sleng Teng riddim) and get rightly p.o’d when we get the short end of the proverbial stick. (IE; the Grammys NEVER showing the reggae winners). It is this familial bond that truly keeps us all linked and engaged in great chune old or new. As much as I live and breathe the stuff, I don’t pretend to know every artist that comes down the pike or even singers/deejays and bands of old who I may have not been aware of. Enter confession moment here… I JUST heard of UK songstress Lady Lex last week while perusing the many podcasts I listen to regularly. Utterly amazing she is, but I had not known she’s been killing the scene since the early ’80s! For those laughing and pointing at me, I’ll gladly take the roasting with a smile, but my point is that the joy of discovering new artists and becoming a fan is what the love of music is all about.
Brooklyn resident Jonny Go Figure is proof positive of this. I had never heard of him before bossman Mr. T tasked me with listening and reviewing the young singer, songwriter and producer who’s front and center of the task to deliver quality reggae music to the masses. What’s funny is that one week before I found out who he was, one of my best friends from Bermuda was touting a homegrown vinyl single from the days of his youth that was on a website belonging to the Deadly Dragon Sound System, with whom Jonny is affiliated with. Remembering his face, I then get the opportunity to talk about this man and his debut album, “Crucial Moods”.
Jonny opens the proceedings with Worldwide, a classic skank of a chune with all of the trappings of a classic roots banger. It’s obvious from the way he rides the track effortlessly that despite his young age, he’s well-versed in what makes an album opener. His voice, while not as silky as the predecessors he so fondly looks up to, is intriguing enough to hold your attention, as he allows the expert production to shine through. Selassieson, falls right in line as Jonny asks “Wha dem a go do now, when Selassieson come true now, and bring you the truth now?” A lament to the evil Babylon system, never has a warning of the downfall of the wicked sounded so damn good. JGF also shows his versatility with a mean chat stylee on tracks like No Officer and Lion Livication riding both rhythms, much to my exuberance. But the gem of the album is the one-drop cut Falling Star. A beautiful melody serves as the backdrop for this love song that rivals efforts by contemporaries with a much higher profile. I was damn near sold after this one hit, but then my dude totally flips the script and blesses the listener with 5, count ‘em, 5 BLAZING dub cuts that vault this album to the next level. Mimicking each of the first 5 cuts (yet not directly titled after them) Jonny allows a revisit utilizing a masterful command of the boards. I’m a real sucker for a good dub cut (aren’t we all?) and JGF does it well, allowing you to do whatever it is you do when you vibe out, judgment-free of course. Despite only having a total of 10 tracks with the dubs, this album is like a shot of Wray & Nephew rum, powerful, and straight to the point. The brevity of the project as a whole might prohibit him from gaining early consideration for album of the year, but I’ll be damned if I won’t champion this brother as a serious player in reggae music, and a force to be reckoned with due to his obvious knowledge, love, and appreciation for it.
Bottom line, Crucial Moods is absolutely a must for the collection, just make sure not to shame your friends if they’ve never heard of him before. Listen and enjoy!!