Tarrus Riley – Love Situation

February 12, 2014

tarrusriley-lovesituation-albumreview.jpgWith his flawless tenor voice and sophisticated soulful pop roots sound, no one makes reggae quite like Tarrus Riley. But he and musical director Dean Fraser have taken care not to repeat themselves. Debut album Challenges stirred an eclectic blend of reggae and pop rock whereas critical and sales zenith Parables played up his cultural side. Third effortContagious was a sprawling multi-producer ensemble that spanned the clever to the cloying, before the semi-unpluggedMecoustic stripped everything back for a still lavish mix of songs old and new.
Fifth outing Love Situation continues to step away from the glitz in tribute to reggae’s forebear – the rocksteady sounds of the mid-60s. Tarrus sailed close to this territory onContagious when he recorded Young Heart over the Heptones Make Up To Break Up for London’s bygone rhythm revampers Peckings. Later he guested on his friend Konshens’ Rasta Impostor Remix which was an update of a Treasure Isle gem (Love Is A Treasure by Freddie McKay). Now he has taken the concept for a full set – co-produced by Fraser, Tarrus’ co-manager Shane C. BrownMitchum Khan Chin and Jordan McClure. It’s mixed by Brown and joint released by Canon, Jukeboxx productions, BMSG and Zojak Worldwide (who are acting as label rather than distributor for the first time).

Several rhythms are built on samples from the vaults of Shane Brown’s great-uncle, Treasure Isle’s founder Duke Reid, with others sourced from Phil Pratt, Coxsone Dodd, Sonia Pottinger and Keith Hudson. But just asMecoustic pushed the term “acoustic” to breaking point Tarrus and Dean have not gone straight vintage a la Bitty McLean’s On Bond Street. Instead 60s loops are augmented with modern instrumentation. There’s a definite musical logic to linking the two eras in this way. Rocksteady was the first Jamaican style to utilise the “one drop” drum pattern. Moreover veterans such as the producer Niney have been telling anyone who will listen that 2000s one drop reggae is actually speeded up rocksteady in disguise.

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