Record Review: Omar Perry – The Journey (Talowa Productions)

Omar Perry rides on familiar and new riddims delivering a bunch of solid tracks among 18 songs in a lengthy 70’ album. In his third offering, he is singing, chanting and singjaying in a versatile set featuring mainly roots reggae but also some dancehall with commercial leanings.

Having a turbulent life as a sound engineer, performer, selector, traveler and reggae ambassador in his adventure in Africa Omar Perry has collected a lot of sounds. Having already more than a decade in Europe and his Belgian headquarters he has collaborated with some of the most crucial crews (Radikal Dub Kolektiv, Mungo’s Hi Fi) not to mention the musical experience to be the son of probably the most nodal icon in dub and reggae music: Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry.

The album kicks in with a 4-string blast: ‘Father of creation’ (UK Flu riddim), ‘Love in a mi heart’, ‘Change your ways’ with Anthony B and ‘Ready for the world’. Each song is solid in its own way. I need to highlight the interesting version of Augustus Pablo’s vibes on ‘Love in a mi heart’ and the innovative use of Cuban/latin-sounding horns in ‘Change your ways’, probably the most memorable song of all.

After the first chain of songs things are watered down a bit with few songs showing only glimpses of greatness like in the ultra-heavy ‘Life ain’t easy’ with Kiddus I and the cheerful  ‘Big Brown Eyes’ (reminding Inner Circle).

For example, there are attempts to enter the charts (‘She is so nice’) or the dancefloors of patronized show-off clubs (‘World let us down’) by using those ‘robotified’ distorted vocals that have become a staple of the music industry. Dancehall is not particularly convincing in this album (G.C.T.), only slightly more pleasant with the oldskool sounding ‘Thinking of you’ (with legendary Earl 16).

Fortunately, the end of the album is utterly enjoyable with 3 good songs in a row: the soulful and conscious ‘I & I Rising’ (The Abyssinians – ‘Declaration of rights’ riddim) and the more singjaying Sizzla-like ‘Eat A Food’ and ‘Wise Man’ all delivering harder basslines and conscious rhymes.

No more gangsta violence! Hear Omar Perry’s ‘Change your ways’with Anthony B:

Overall,you can find enough inspired ideas in the album but when all 18 tracks are considered, it is a rather uneven release.



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