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Clinton Fearon - Heart and Soul

Clinton Fearon - Heart and Soul

Clinton Fearon - Heart and Soul

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After the triumph of Mi Deh Yah this is a nice change of pace.


Clinton Fearon - Heart and SoulWoody-voiced ex-Gladiator Clinton Fearon's superb 2010 album 'Mi Deh Yah' (I'm here) was a high point in his solo career and told us unflinchingly what makes him tick. It would have been hard to follow such a definitive statement about his present so now the Seattle-based veteran has turned back to the past with an acoustic set of songs he wrote while in the Gladiators.

Unlike his 2005 unplugged longplayer, the aptly titled 'Me An Mi Guitar', 'Heart and Soul' utilises fulsome acoustic arrangements (all played by Fearon himself) involving guitar, percussion and a Taylor bass - whose big resonating chamber gives a deep boom that recalls the rhumba box of the mento era. In a way, this entire record is reminiscent of the final mento fusion recordings of the late Stanley Beckford, creating a more organic sound in Jamaican music than is usually possible. Clinton's engineer of choice Mel Detmer, who has been with him on  an unbroken string of top notch grown up roots albums since 2004's 'Give and Take', remains at the controls.

Fearon's songwriting style values plain speaking rather than the proverbial words of his erstwhile colleague Albert Griffiths. The vocals are very clear against this backdrop and his messages and melodies have ample room to breathe.

The most well known song is the great Gladiators anthem Chatty Chatty Mouth: written about the politician Dudley Thompson, featuring a call and response between guitars and percussion that Fearon says he learned under Lee Scratch Perry. But the majority are compositions  beloved of hardcore Gladiators fans such as Marvel Not from second Virgin album 'Proverbial Reggae' and Follow The Rainbow from another later, Prince Tony produced LP, 1982's 'Babylon Street'. Its lyrics could almost be viewed as a prediction of Clinton's decision to follow his own path to Seattle, where the sun shines through the rain.

This is a far less immediate album than 'Mi Deh Yah', but that is no bad thing. These songs, recast in an even more bucolic form than we expect from the rural-reggae master, take root in the mind like a slow growing, strong-willed tree.

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