Romain Virgo The System Review

Album. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

High-quality second album from the rightly rising Jamaican talent.

David Katz 2012

Jamaican vocalist Romain Virgo is definitely going places. Five years ago, when he was only 17, he was the winner of a televised talent contest, Rising Stars, which led to a recording contract with Greensleeves Records. Any scepticism of his talent was instantly dispelled by the arrival of his self-titled debut album in 2010, which mixed romantic ballads like Love Doctor with songs depicting the harsh realities of ghetto living, such as the outstanding single Mi Caan Sleep. Despite his youth and small stature, he was already a natural in the live arena, giving impressive performances on major festival stages in Europe in support of the LP.

Two years later and Virgo is going from strength to strength, hailed as "The New Voice of Jamaica". If The System was meant to be his "difficult second album", he has passed that test with flying colours, delivering an inspired set of new material mixing ballads and "reality" tunes, but weighing in heavier on the "rough life" side of things this time.

Songs like Minimum Wage, Another Day Another Dollar and Food fi the Plate evidence increased maturity in terms of vocal delivery and lyrical content, while the highly personal Not Today seems to recount a near-death experience at birth. With the exception of Don’t You Remember, which is too slushy to be noteworthy, the romantic tracks sound very good as well, and Broken Heart, a collaborative number with Busy Signal, is highly entertaining. And although Virgo is first and foremost a singer, he also shows off his rapping skills now and again, evidencing the multiple dimensions of his talent.

Helping the album maintain its quality is sterling production from Shane Brown, whose Juke Boxx Productions has been issuing some of the most inspired dancehall material of late; Donovan Germain, Danny Browne, and Clive Hunt are among the other figures on the production side. Great live drums from Kirkledove maintain the propulsion, and a live horn section adds depth to certain tracks.

In case you’ve never heard Virgo before, sit down and give this album a proper listen. Although their styles are different, he can perhaps be likened to Tarrus Riley in that his output is always worth tracking down. If you’re already familiar with this great young talent, you’ve probably already got your copy by now. But keep your eyes open for his next appearances in your area, as catching him live is unlikely to disappoint.

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