Love Has No Boundaries

by: Beres Hammond

Beres Hammond has had a remarkably long and consistent career in Jamaican music. Starting as the singer in the island's premier horn band, Zap Pow, Hammond began mixing elements of R&B, hip-hop, and dancehall into his patented lovers rock, and thanks to his easy and soulful vocal phrasing, not to mention his steady songwriting, he has crafted an approach that lifts him well above the constant shifting of Jamaican musical styles. Love Has No Boundaries doesn't break new ground as much as refine what Hammond has been doing for years, and the album's unbridled optimism is contagious and refreshing. Smooth as whipped butter and sounding at times like a happy and grounded version of Marvin Gaye, Hammond brings a calm wisdom to these songs of the heart, and his unassuming persona makes him the perfect duet partner. Buju Banton guests on "Thanks Fi Me Pride & Joy," one of the clear highlights here, and although mixing Hammond's urbane delivery with Banton's gruff yowl would seem a bit like mixing milk with gasoline, it works wonderfully. Another standout track here is "Good Old Dancehall Vibes," which features the legendary Big Youth, and it is quite simply a midtempo gem. Other key cuts include the opening "Interlude," "Feel Love," and "If I Should Wait," all of which illustrate Hammond's urban soul reggae style perfectly. Hammond isn't flashy or provocative, but his steady and bright optimism is every bit as compelling as any angry dancehall rapper. Solid writing and solid singing make this a welcome addition to the Beres Hammond canon. ~ Steve Leggett

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