Friday, 17 June 2011

HIS FATHER’S SON: Stephen Marley digs to the ‘root’ of soulful reggae on ‘Revelation’

ROOT OF THE ISSUE: Marley releases new 14-track CD.

Stephen Marley’s latest album opens with “Made in Africa,” a gently sweeping ode to the vast splendour and rich history of the Motherland, featuring hand drums and easy melodies in tight harmony. Assisted by ascendant rapper Wale and the cast of the hit Broadway musical Fela!, the song sets the tone for the earnest and largely meditative offerings on this 14-track opus from one of reggae’s most prolific producers and songwriters of the reigning generation.

Highly reflective and very much in the tradition of his iconic father (down to the raspy voice), Marley’s Revelation Part 1: The Root of Life is authentic reggae that touches and transports with its traces of world music and neo-soul, while deliving into themes as universal as hope, love, loyalty and humanity. Among the highlights: the simmering duet “No Cigarette Smoking” with R&B powerhouse Melanie Fiona, the militant “Jah Army” (featuring brother Junior Gong) and the soul-seraching closer “Now I Know,” drenched in acoustic guitar and a little piano.

Having earned a rep as a major creative driving force behind the successful, Grammy-copping albums of his musical siblings, expectations are understandably high when the 39-year-old musician drops a new record of his own. And as on Mind Control and Mind Control Acoustic, he consistently showcases depth, sensitive and meaningful songwriting and a mystical delivery that compellingly recalls Bob. [B+]

DOWNLOAD: “Now I Know,” an introspective slow-burner

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