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Brownie Points by Lloyd Brown

Brownie Points by Lloyd Brown

Brownie Points by Lloyd Brown

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Top marks yet again for one of the UK's finest singers.

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Brownie Points by Lloyd Brown

In an ideal world Lloyd Brown would be much more famous than he is. His instantly recognisable tones would be lauded in the same breaths as those of Tarrus Riley and Peter Morgan, his definitive renditions of Mario’s Let Me Love You and Robbie Williams’ Angels would be fighting for the number one spot in the pop charts, and he’d be recognized as the greatest interpreter of others’ songs since Sinatra – while being a pretty good writer to boot.

But it’s not an ideal world, and Brown is probably more famous for his battle-of-the-sexes tune Stress than for his impressive body of albums post growing out his locks and becoming more spiritual in direction. He has sometimes proved an elusive character to get hold of (whether to arrange an interview or for something as simple as to buy a t shirt), suggesting he may be as laid back about marketing himself as the powers that be in the music media are about marketing him.

The title of his latest self produced set (for Riddimworks) isn’t just a throwaway play on his name. Like some of the best reggae long players of late, Brownie Points is a concept album. Each track begins with a phone eq’d female voice giving a separate saying (or “Brownie Point”) key to understanding what makes the man tick.

There are fewer cover versions this time. But the compositions, programmed-drum-with-live-instrument arrangements and magpie creative tendencies are as strong as on previous releases Said & Done and Silver. Opener Return Of The One skips to a brokenish beat spliced with camera shutter sounds and a lyric borrowed from Beres Hammond. Memba Dis (Brownie Point: “There Will Always Be Haters So Fuck ‘em”) waxes rock rap retaliation over a sample from the horns intro to Bob Marley’s Natty Dread. The angry-woman-chastising Nought Point Zero (Brownie Point: “Hell Hath No Fury Than An Ex Who’s Vex”) continues his association with Rootdown Productions (fans of their Crystal Woman rhythm may remember his cut, No Stone Unturned, as one its finest incarnations). It rests on a backing track whose foreboding bass line, acoustic stabs and bent electric lead notes - akin to those that haunt Hugh Mundell and Augustus Pablo’s Africa Must Be Free By 1983 - represent a return to form for the Germans after the catchy but slight I Love.

The final Brownie Point on the album is “Dennis Emmanuel Brown. Inspiration. Full Stop.” And if any singer alive carries the Crown Prince’s standard for sweet singing, ease with writing songs, performing old favourites, and the language of both love and culture, it is his namesake Lloyd. Brownie Points is yet another “dix points” winner from the most important voice in British reggae today.

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