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Tarrus Riley - Mecoustic

Tarrus Riley - Mecoustic

Tarrus Riley - Mecoustic

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Tarrus' voice and writing are given ample room to breathe.

Sampler

Tarrus Riley's 2009 third album 'Contagious' was a sprawling, ambitious work that catered to all comers - from smooth pop balladry to hard dancehall. It was also something of a departure from the self contained unity of his well-received second longplayer 'Parables'. For their fourth outing together Riley and his musical svengali Dean Fraser have dialled everything back down a notch with this unplugged collection of cuts from the prior three records, plus new compositions, played on by Fraser, Riley and his BLAK SOIL band. 'Mecoustic' is being released in Europe first, as if to test such a non sound system targeted approach, before coming out in the US and Caribbean in June.

Tarrus Riley - MecousticThis is no rough edged "voice and guitar" jam however. Tarrus and Dean have put a lot of love into these gentle arrangements - with piano often taking the lead, and horns, choral harmonies and tree percussion strategically layered as garnish. Some of Tarrus and Dean's past work, particularly on 'Contagious', was so heavily produced and hook driven that it could feel overblown. More lavish than your average acoustic set, but more subtle than their usual methods, on 'Mecoustic' Tarrus' voice and writing are given ample room to breathe.

A major source is Tarrus' debut CD 'Challenges' (Larger Than Life, an ironically gospel based anti Western Christianity rebuke Marcus Garvey) giving tracks that may have been overlooked a different, less commercial flavour. Likewise there are great re-castings of highlights from his second and third efforts (She's Royal's impact is undiminished amid military drums and sweeping strings, while the messages of I Sight and System Set - with added exposition on the "Willie Lynch Syndrome" from the dub poet Cherry Natural - are scaled back yet hit their emotional cues). But we also find covers (Tarrus and his father Jimmy reunited for the latter's hit Black Mother Prayed) and fresh material, in the form of the Beverley's era reggae of Paradise (stretching the definition of acoustic a little, but never mind!)

'Mecoustic' has been far less hyped in its build up than Busy Signal's 'Reggae Music Again', but if anything it has just as much chance of being a game changer in Jamaican reggae. Dean Fraser said he devised the concept of an acoustic record to appeal to the casual listener (rather than the "hardcore reggae" fan). While it's not sound system fare, in fact this album could also do the opposite: its classic Bill Withers/Stevie Wonder feel offering sticklers for harder, less poppy roots an opportunity to rediscover how wonderful these songs are.

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Posted by Med Dred on 04.16.2012
Blessed love Tarrus Riley

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