Sunday, December 12, 2010

Toussaint - Black Gold

Released back in August on I Grade Records was Black Gold by Toussaint. This album has been described as reggae soul and reggae roots music for its blend of reggae interweaved with soul, funk, jazz, R&B, and deft folk/rock elements, but call it what you want, I quite like soulful reggae, one thing is for sure Tousssaint has found a classy way of putting his message across.
It is not the first time soul has been mixed with reggae after all the likes of Ken Boothe, Alton Ellis and others were covering Motown and Stax classics for labels like Trojan way back. Ok maybe not in a way like this but their voices and some of the arrangements were not that far away from the originals and moving on into the late ‘70s Prince Lincoln Thompson was adding elements of Gamble and Huff’s Philly sound to his music. I suppose where this differs is that it is that here is an artist that has made something of a name for himself as a soul and jazz vocalist who has been drawn to the power of reggae and its association with being the music of the sufferers, for make no mistake despite its silky, easy on the ear sound this is an album fighting against the exploitation of the masses by the elite, a constant reggae theme.
There are also personal stories on here such as ‘Conquering Cocaine’, which touches on the singer's own history of trouble with the drug and softer moments like the R&Bish ‘Unforgettable’.
Some tracks are slightly Marleyesque in their qualities and this applies to "Roots In the Modern Time" one of the main stand out tracks for me. Here Toussaint tells how people are often found neglecting their roots as they pursue the comforts and symbols of the modern world, while the other stand out, and well away from a reggae vibe is the neo-soul sounding ‘Changes’. This tune has one of those jazzy vibes a kin to Erykah Badu and looks at the American political system and warns that though Obama may be president don’t expect things to change over night and that equality and fairness for all will still be a constant battle.
Hopefully this album should appeal to both reggae and soul fans in equal measure and maybe just maybe with the added help of the diversity in instrumentation it will see Toussaint reach wider critical acclaim.

1. Nobody Knows
2. This Song
3. Roots In A Modern Time
4. Be You
5. Sunshine In Morning
6. Hello My Beautiful
7. Black Gold
8. Look Up
9. Conquering Cocaine
10. Rise and Fall featuring Jahdan Blakkamoore
11. Marching
12. Patient
13. Unforgettable
14. Changing
15. Rain Again
Available from System Records

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