SMITH, ERIC: Rocky Road: CD

This made for a fascinating listen not so much because Smith is talented singer, which he is, as for two other things: 1) so much of the modern reggae I run into these days is of the ragga variety, which seems much more interested these days in being the Jamaican equivalent of gangsta rap or 2 Live Crew than imparting knowledge and consciousness, so it was a bit jarring, not to mention refreshing, to hear some honest-to-goodness roots reggae for a change; 2) he really loves his influences, man—the chorus of opening track, “Tour the World,” is a variation on Black Uhuru’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” and the backing track to “Freedom” sounds like it was lifted wholly from Bob Marley’s “Exodus.” In short, this is quite good, but hardly treading uncharted waters.

 –jimmy (http:/myspace.com/culturetalentagency)