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Donovan Kingjay is a regular on London sound systems like Reggae Roast, and has voiced a steady succession of singles for UK roots labels over the past five/six years. This is his second album and warmly recommended to those who love good quality reggae music but usually steer clear of the steppers dominated UK Scene. Donovans a part of that but he’s also an excellent singer, write good songs and has made an album that could easily sit alongside those coming out of Jamaica. It’s a winner, and gets better with every hearing.
Vocally, he sounds a little like Bushman or maybe Dennis Brown, if you want to trace they system even further back. Maybe even Michael Prophet in places but ultimately he’s got one of those tenor voices that fits most reggae rhythms like a grove, no matter whether roots, myahbinghi or rub-a-dub. In partnership with SSC Record, he’s included examples of each here, all recorded in traditional reggae fashion. Like the backing tracks, his lyrics don’t exactly break new ground but then Donovan’s a Rastaman and so if you feel like you have heard it all before its because Rasta business doesn’t change, theres still room for singers promoting spiritual awareness and an ital lifestyle.
His Religious beliefs take centre stage on ‘Glory To Him’, voiced over conga drums and a plunging bass-line, whilst ‘Best Friend’ and the melody-filled ‘Hold De Faith’ testify to their enduring influence. Elsewhere he’s heard recruiting soldiers on ‘Grow Your Natty Dread’ (Despite reminding us of how Rasta elders were often persecuted) and chants over a pulverising beat on ‘Bounce Forward’ thats a ringer for Sly and Robbie’s ‘Fort Augustus’. You can feel warmth coming off songs like these, the uplifting title track,’World Is Sleeping’ reviving a classic Aswad rhythm and ‘Gift of Life’ a cut to the Abyssinians’ ‘Forward to Zion’ that oozes positivity and good faith, just like so many of the songs here.
John Masouri **** Four Stars
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