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French Connection by Perfect

French Connection by Perfect

French Connection by Perfect

By on - Photos by Sherkhan - Comment

Another fiercely intelligent record from the man named Greg Rose.


Perfect's follow-up to his precocious concept album 'Born Dead With Life' showcases a broader spectrum of musical styles than its predecessor. (Actually it's not strictly a follow-up: Perfect rather quietly put out 'Karma' on Chalice Palace - which was judged as one of “the WORST reggae albums of the first half of 2009” by capitalising king of the reggae bloggers Achis). The clean but classical sounding modern roots rhythms of Austrian production house IrieVibrations have been replaced by the glossier, more urban flavoured works of another Euro producer, French beatmaker Sherkhan. Yet these differences are purely cosmetic: for repeat listens reveal the same inter-song harmony, lyrical and song-writing prowess, and irrepressible personality-stamp of the man named Greg Rose.

Where 'Born Dead With Life' made concessions to 90s hip hop, 'French Connection' boasts some far more striking departures. Opening track Step Away rings the changes with autotuned vocals, nyabinghi drums and some cheesy club anthem piano. Son Of Jamaica takes the rap sounds mainstream, with lyrics that remind us that, while Perfect is a musical traveller who prefers European producers to create his uniquely rootical formula, he is also a proud Jamaican sired by the island's greats. The acoustic vibes promised in his 2008 interview with United Reggae are heard in Rebel In Me, which borrows a line from Tracy Chapman and uses human breaths to keep time. There’s even a bit of rock thrown in for good measure.

But if all that sounds sprawling and unfocussed - it isn't. As the album takes hold the complementary nature of the songs that characterised Born Dead… becomes clear. And there are plenty of variations on that album's moves to balance out the experimentation. Blue collar Dad tribute Family Man is a blissful keyboard noodling ballad very like last year's Empress Collaboration Smile; Ruff Time is a "drops-like-lead" midnight creep that recalls Put Some Love In Your Heart. Marijuana We Seh is a galvanising, refreshingly “undubby” herb tune with an ear burrowing hook, while a cover of Soul and reggae standard Ain't No Sunshine feels anything but off-the-shelf.

Fellow free spirit Sizzla Kalonji appears for Absolute Blessings (a lavish benediction using the Night Nurse rhythm). Life features the anguished Zamunda (who sings like Jah Cure, Natural Black and Garnett Silk combined). And Nah Cut Mi Dread pairs Perfect with Lutan Fyah - bringing together two of the greatest roots-men of recent years.

In many ways Perfect has returned to the diversity of his first album 'Giddimani' - yet with the unity and discipline his debut lacked. 'French Connection' is not as immediate as 'Born Dead With Life', and in a year where there have been ample quality releases by artists including Queen Ifrica, Chezidek, Lloyd Brown (and soon) Pressure Buss Pipe, it doesn't stand out quite as much. Even so, this is another fiercely intelligent, highly accessible record - and just as worthy of your time.

Copyright Angus Taylor 16th November 2009 ©

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