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Rise

[a]Kelly[/a] is the latest contender in reggae's nostalgic rediscovery of its old-skool '70s consciousness roots.

Best known for his upbeat Jamaican chart-topper 'If Love So Nice', which is inexplicably excluded from this debut UK album, Kelly is the latest contender in reggae's self-consciously nostalgic rediscovery of its old-skool '70s consciousness roots.



He is often compared to Sizzla, although he lacks his fellow ghetto prophet's rasping harshness and leans more towards mellifluous, poppy arrangements like the lilting bounce of 'Last Days' and the skittery, sweet-toothed skip of 'My Heart'. Even so, millennial rasta sermonising is in plentiful supply, from the gravel-voiced gospel gravitas of 'Purified' to the biblical self-righteousness of 'I'll Never'. Essential message: Jah is a terrific bloke and nothing will tempt Junior away from glorifying his name. No way.



'Rise' may provide relief for anyone who thought old-skool reggae had been sacrificed to mechanical beats and slack-talking shock-jock MCs. On the other hand, the grinding predictability of Kelly's themes and vocabulary will not endear him to fans of this music as a progressive, evolving form. Because, aside from the unlikely harmonica-driven blues finale 'Weep', most of these 14 tracks sound like theme-park pastiches of some 'classic' golden age. If Sizzla is the Paul Weller of reggae, say, then Kelly may well be its Richard Ashcroft. An intriguing notion, but hardly an exciting one.
5 / 10

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