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Pressure - Africa Redemption

Pressure - Africa Redemption

Pressure - Africa Redemption

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The prodigal Pressure set is finally here.


In December 2012 a press release announced the forthcoming fourth album by St Thomas, Virgin Islands’ catchy culture chanter Pressure. It was called Africa Redemption and was helmed by King Jammy’s son Baby G. Then everything went silent.

Pressure - Africa RedemptionFast forward to 2014 and Africa Redemption’s place as Pressure’s fourth long-player has been taken by his excellent venture with St Croix VI’s I Grade Records, The Sound. The year just keeps on giving to his followers however, because, thanks to a distribution deal via Zojak Worldwide, the prodigal Baby G set is here.

Pressure has spoken excitedly of the record in interviews and it's easy to hear why. There is an overflow of heavyweight combination features, plus contributions from producers such as Damian Marley and his keyboardist Sean “Pow” Diedrick. The music is divided between traditional roots rock, sparse symphonic contemporary Afrocentricism that recalls the Marley children, vintage digital dancehall samples of Penthouse and Jammys backings, and pop/lovers’ fare fans of Pressure’s biggest hit Love & Affection will enjoy. Like The Sound, its deepest dubbiest moments represent a more hardcore cultural reggae flavour than the radio-friendly one drop of his albums with Don Corleon and Dean Pond - yet maintain Pressure’s ear for a sweet hook.

Unusually for a reggae album where guest appearances tend to result from circumstance, friendship or business over art, the combinations are among the strongest selections. Check Mental Disturbance on a minimal mix of Chinna Smith’s Leave Yah/Jamming rhythm featuring Tarrus Riley and Junior Gong, My Herbs boasting the greenery grinding tones of Jah Mason, or the title track with Chronixx. Yet Pressure holds down the toughest tune of all, the swaggering Damian produced Freedom Fighters, alone.

But, while it would be great to hear a 100% roots set from this artist, it’s unlikely he will ever leave admirers of his more sensitive side out. Just Like That is a mellow summery seduction with a nice use of vocoder (the less used and abused cousin of autotune). There’s autobiography in Pressure’s lyrics on Dear Mama, as he talks about the split of his parents and how his mother believed in her son’s dream of a music career. He also refers to his narrow escape from death by shooting during I’m Grateful.

Africa Redemption continues in the vein of high quality control, long-format releases from Pressure. It’s likely both this and The Sound will feature in the blogosphere’s end of year lists (although one senses the very best is still to come).

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