|Having recently appeared at the 9:30 Club with labelmate Luciano, Junior
Kelly is poised for the release of his debut VP release, Love So Nice.
If the title of Kelly's new release sounds familiar, it may be because you
heard the chart-topping title track as a single over the last few months. Its
success was well-deserved, as "Love So Nice" is an addictive and catchy
singjay tune with overtones of Bob Marley's "Stir It Up."
Fortunately, Kelly's not a one-hit wonder. The remaining 17 tracks are all
filled with the same passion and spiritual drive that one hears on "Love So
Nice." Reminiscent of fellow conscious DJ Anthony B, Junior Kelly loves
making music, and it's abundantly clear on his debut album.
Standout tracks include the powerful "Boom Draw" and "Paradise," the
uplifting and thought-provoking "Jah Nuh Dead" and "Black Woman," and the
beautiful acoustic arrangements of "Standing Firm" and "Well Runs Dry." Kelly
is a unique voice that can sing or chat equally as well and his lyrics are
well beyond the mindless drivel that so much dancehall has become infused
with. Kelly performs without any guests except on "Faith," which allows Brian
and Tony Gold to step out of their usual back-up vocal positions.
While at first Kelly's sound may feel derivative, rest assured that he has a
definitive style of his own that becomes apparent after several listens. He's
no Buju-ripoff or Capleton-wanna-be. He stands firm on his own two feet
without attempting to ride any coattails.
A number of producers have their hands in this project, including Shane Brown
and Rohan Dwyer, Michael Spanford, the Ba'k Beat Crew, and Norman "Nul Pus"
Bryan, among others. There are no standard dancehall tracks here (aside from
the album's sole mediocre cut, a remix of "Hotta Fi Get") -- these are all
conscious tunes with production as strong as the lyricism.
There's no doubt that fans of conscious dancehall artists like Anthony B,
Sizzla, Buju, and Capleton will want to pick up Junior Kelly's album. He
provides similar passion and drive, but with his own unique take on things.
Junior Kelly is a powerful young voice that I look forward to hearing a lot
more of in the future.
Click here for more information, but don't be thrown off by the reference to Standing Firm, as that was the
original title of Kelly's album. Love So Nice is due out on April 3rd.