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Justice by Lutan Fyah

Justice by Lutan Fyah

Justice by Lutan Fyah

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Lutan Fyah is back on top.

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Lutan Fyah - JusticeSome artists’ abilities require that they be held to higher standards than others. Take Lutan Fyah, whose liberal and prolific singles output is both his friend and foe. His Greensleeves LP 'Phantom War' was one of the best of 2006; 2008 releases 'Live In San Francisco' and the double album 'Africa' were comparative disappointments. The former was marred by “MTV style” mashing of any crowd response, creating a flat, vibesless atmos, and the latter compromised by more duff studio decisions such as building the tracks with compressed mp3s. June 2009’s 'African Be Proud' was an improvement although some listeners were put off by its occasional hip-hop rhythms. All were decent enough, but this is Lutan Fyah we're talking about so the pressure was on for a follow-up to set matters straight.

'Justice', recorded mostly in ’07 with Philadelphian producers Philadub, does exactly that. The simple just-the-facts drum, bass guitar and keyboard arrangements solicit vintage vocal performances. The angry rasp is back in Lutan’s voice (while his softer, gentler deliveries have resulted in some good tunes, often they uncover the limitations of his singing ability). The time-killing “woyeeyay” scat-noises are minimal and his lyrical imagery and metaphors ("Babylon sitting in a broken chair" "deep in the crocodile swamp”) are on starkly resonant form.

The vast majority of tracks are weighty minor key roots pieces. Killsome City is a brooding meditation on the plight of urban youth over menacing sitar drones. Selassie I Within utilises a heavily processed and distorted snatch of singjay gimmickry as its hook. Yet there are also tender, if troubled love, songs (Don't Cry); earth-shaking acoustic chants (the inexorable repatriation collaboration Coming Home); and taut dancehall moments (Make Up Your Mind).

Initially the album might seem lumbering and deliberate. The heavy, self consciously herby production is not as refined as the tandem produced 'Phantom War'; and the keyboards at times sound a bit loud compared the vocals. Fortunately, these first impressions soon pass.

In short, this consolidating digital release re-installs Lutan Fyah at the top of the musical tree. Furthermore, 'Justice' has been now re-issued in this bonus edition with an extra dub version for itunes customers. Jamaican and JA-foreign combination roots reggae is back big style in 2009 and this is another set not to be missed.

Copyright Angus Taylor 27th August 2009 ©

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