Gospel music from the Carribean is becoming increasingly popular, not only in the West Indies, but everywhere that sunny rhythms, lazy back beats, fresh vocals and intensity of Jesus-focused lyrics is appreciated.Producers: Tommy Cowan, Noel Browne
album release date: mid 2001
This is a continuing segment of a review series that shines the spotlight on recent island-rooted Gospel. Check here to get to previous segments.
Out of Trench Town, Jamaica comes reggae/folk artist Ziggy Soul (aka Devon Beckford) with Born Again from Glory Music.
Featuring bright, sun-splashed melodies in a freewheeling, carefree style, Ziggy makes liberal use of acoustic guitar to render his originals. While his accent is strong, his vocal approach is easy on the ear, as he relies on sung lines in contrast to the rap/chat so popular with his contemporaries. Frequent dips in voice inflection make for an interesting sound.
Production on the album comes from the veteran and potent duo of Tommy Cowan and Noel Browne, ensuring that the reggae rhythm overlays are always on point. Browne also significantly co-writes.
Song highlights are “Draw Me Nearer” which is heavily dosed with catchy pop elements and comes supported with backing vocals from the KGees. The title track “Born Again” is more elemental in its roots approach, with Ziggy wailing all over. “Hallelujah” is the most infectious piece on the album, simple in lyrics and filled with some nice vocal and instrumental arrangements.
On “Hosannah In The Highest”, organ from Mallory Williams joins in the festivities on this mid-tempo and rootsy praise. “Trust In The Lord” has a similar feel, and is perhaps representative of this troubadour’s most effective sound, with heavy reggae syncopation up front.
Elsewhere, the vibe is more hymnal, with the slow “He Saved Me” and “Eyes Have Not Seen” being examples. And Ziggy’s unusual and soothing gentle cover of The Gaither’s “Because He Lived” needs to be heard.
Ziggy Soul shows himself to be a brilliant tunesmith, creating simple but effective melodies that are true to island sounds, but with a musicality and a good news message that anyone can revel in.
reviewed by Stan North —
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