Reggae Music Again

by: Busy Signal

Jamaican-born dancehall monolith Busy Signal has built his reputation on hard-edged beats and a lightning-fast roughneck vocal delivery, sometimes offset by sweetly crooned covers of '70s and '80s hits by decidedly non-reggae artists like Phil Collins. Reggae Music Again, Busy Signal's fourth proper album, marks the artist's swing from hard-hitting dancehall to his earliest inspirations of roots reggae styles and summery lovers rock rhythms. On spoken interludes, Busy Signal (also known by his given name, Reanno Gordon) talks about his motivations to make what he calls "conscious music" and "music from the heart." Without completely losing the Auto-Tuned vocals or deeply bellowing vocal style that characterized his earlier work, songs like "Jah Love" and "Run Weh" bring the album solidly into the realm of contemporarily produced roots-leaning reggae with rocksteady rhythms and brightly melodic vocal hooks. The soulful "Royal Night" winds sultry guitar around seductive lovers rock harmonies. The turn toward these more traditional roots forms isn't a complete turn away from the dancehall moves that built Busy's house. "119" is a hectic dancehall banger, aping the rhythm and hook from Tenor Saw's classic staple "Ring the Alarm" before launching into meaty verses by Anthony Redrose and Joe Lickshot. The tune has an undercurrent of dub echo effects and the jingle of distant sleigh bells throughout. "Wicked Man" also has subtle dub touches more in line with '80s digital dub clouds than the raw lab experiments of King Tubby or Lee Perry. Busy Signal is a bona fide superstar in Jamaica, so the demand for new material on his discs is as high as any international pop star. This accounts for the almost hourlong running length of Reggae Music Again and the inclusion of the interminable schmaltz of an acoustic remix of his former hit "Comfort Zone." Despite a few moments of filler or uninspired banter, the album's bold stylistic change is a move for the better. Busy Signal brings the same fire and love to his trek into roots that make his dancehall moments so riveting. ~ Fred Thomas

Please enable Javascript to view this page competely.