Serious Times (VP)

Born a simple country boy in rural Jamaica, Jepther McClymont, a.k.a. Luciano, has become the premier roots singer of his generation. As one of the few top-shelf artists to hold firm to the traditional reggae sound in a dancehall-dominated scene, he has earned the conscious mantle once worn by Jacob Miller and Dennis Brown. Yet Luciano's highly consistent track record is even more of an accomplishment -- unlike the classic Jamaican Rasta singers of yore, he has had to carry the heavy load of Jah's message with far less peer support than did his predecessors.

By now, ten years after his breakthrough release Where There Is Life, you know what to expect from Luciano: a mix of roots, dancehall, folk, country and gospel, all delivered with his appealing voice and unflappable spirit. Serious Time doesn't deviate from that equation, but though it's perhaps a tad predictable, the album still compares favorably with the singer's best work.

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