Tarrus Riley Contagious on LP
Tarrus Riley is the most promising of the second generation of Jamaica roots reggae singers. The son of Jimmy Riley – who has had a long career as a solo artist as well as being a former member of the Uniques and the Techniques - Tarrus' songs retain ties to the Jamaican roots tradition while still managing to sound distinctly contemporary.
His third album, 2009's Contagious, is grounded in a roots reggae tradition that is recast with a gleaming 21st century sheen courtesy of the album's primary producer, venerable saxophonist Dean Fraser and created by Grafton and Tuff Gong studios sovereignty including Sly and Robbie on drum and bass, guitarists Mitchum "Khan" Chin and Cat Coore, keyboardist Robbie Lyn and Fraser's impassioned sax styling.
Contagious remarkably shifts between smoothly crooned lover's rock and artful Rastafarian declarations, provocative commentaries and dancehall's combustible edge, its cohesion provided by Tarrus' spectacularly emotive vocals and reliably inspiring words. As its title indicates, this highly infectious collection of 12 songs is characterized by symptoms of melodiousness, rapturous roots rhythms and hard hitting lyrical realities that are transmitted through repeated spins, resulting in a high grade musical fever from which you will not want to recover.
Tarrus returns to the rapid-fire deejaying of his Taurus days on "Good Girl Gone Bad" (featuring rising dancehall star Konshens) produced by Tarik "Russian" Johnston. On "Don't Judge," he cautions harsh judgments often times leads to reckless actions. Random brutality, war and an array of social injustices prompts the contemplative "Why So Much Wickedness?" A simple yet stirring invocation to His Majesty is expressed on "King Selassie" and the title track reworks the majestic one-drop rhythm from Bob Marley's immortal "Coming in From the Cold" as it details that untreatable sweet sickness.