PAINT IT BLACK: Power and passion collide on Wilks' stellar solo effort.
It goes without saying that Lenya Wilks possesses the goods to become the voice of her Jamaican generation. Her new self-titled album, her first solo effort, is chock-full of passionate, soul-stirring singing and delivers the apt reminder that an outsize talent like hers (where Diana King meets Jennifer Hudson) deserves greater mainstream success.
It's largely a complaint-free listening experience. Teaming with the incredibly impressive multi-tasker Sam Berley (songwriter/manager/executive producer), Wilks shines on these 15 tracks that explore everything from true love, heartache and infidelity to the bonds of family, friendship and patriotic devotion.
Highlights include the pain-soaked "Anytime the Heart Stops" and the enticingly groovy "Summer Soul," which gives the record a splendid opening. But any mention of my favourite cuts must include the soulfully rich "I Hate Love," which shows off Wilks' lush vocals, and the Dean Fraser-produced "Yeah Man Jamaica," a repeat-worthy gem celebrating the best of our little island in the sun.
The funky "Dis Love Affair" speaks to the understandable frustrations of long-distance romance, while Tarrus Riley shows up for the nostalgic number "Old Time Love," which also gets vocal contributions from young reggae disciples Chevaughn and Natel.
Overall, the disc represents a sterling achievement for this blossoming artist, effectively blending heartfelt reggae melodies with traces of contemporary R&B. What's more, it offers a convincing showcase for a fast-rising songstress blessed with a powerful voice poised for a bright future. Tyrone's Verdict: B+
DOWNLOAD: The moving tribute "Mothered".