Sizzla Crucial Times Review

Album. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

Showcases its maker’s many moods, encompassing several musical directions.

Angus Taylor 2010

Sizzla's second consecutive official album release for Greensleeves finds him revisiting his past in a different way to 2009's Firehouse Crew-backed Ghetto Youth-ology. This time he's sought the help of seminal producer Homer Harris, with whom he cut big 2008 single Crucial Time, and who, many years before, gave both Sizzla and that other modern giant, Luciano, their names.

Where Ghetto Youth-ology stuck as close as the defiantly antinomian Sizzla could manage to a single unified one-drop sound, here he and Harris are in a more playful mood. Frontloaded with organic roots (Precious Gift, Take a Stand) the tracklisting takes in RnB-inflected love songs and sexy club anthems (Charming, and the mockingly colonial Jolly Good Time), raucously-delivered late 90s revivals (Progress, Rat Race, There's No Pain), hard dancehall (another oldie, from 2000, Atta Clap) and even drum and bass (Sufferation and Poverty).

The one constant is a commitment to positive, instructional lyrics with an emphasis on making the most of life on earth. Crucial Time asks youth to attend school and "no prostitute yourself". Agriculture and Education commands, "You shall learn to live in love and be kind, don't waste your time," changing to a somewhat messianic "don't waste my time" in the next verse.

While the tracks flow agreeably enough, the material at the record’s start is very different from the more digital, less-melodic fare at its end. It’s as if Sizzla is attempting to unite his large and dissonant fanbase: offering them righteous lyrical content if they'll accept his manifold musical directions and not be partial to any one style of rhythm over another.

With recordings spanning some 15 years, Crucial Times is more compilation than album in that it showcases “the many moods of Sizzla” rather than being a streamlined listening experience. But this is balanced by its distinct lyrical rationale, nicely polished production, pound-for-pound tuneage, and the sense that the lack of conventional cohesion may well be the point.

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