Another job well done from the globe-trotting Jamaican star.
Angus Taylor 2011
Since 2008's Jah Is My Navigator with Dean Fraser, Luciano has looked away from Jamaica to work with foreign producers. Whether coincidence or not, his lyrics have become more outspoken and his vocal demeanour more fired up – and his third consecutive effort abroad continues the trend.
2010's United States of Africa (for London-based Parisian Frenchie) and Write My Name (for Georgia, USA resident Rawle Collins) utilized Jamaican musicians such as Style Scott and Sly & Robbie. Yet Rub-a-Dub Market makes a complete break with the island, using Austrian production house Irie Vibrations – who were behind Perfect's superlative second album Born Dead With Life.
On the flagship song, Luciano is again on the attack: shouting down the slackness of Jamaican music for an appreciative European audience (perhaps the lucrative Rub-a-Dub Market of the title?). There are fervently devout tunes like Hard Road – over a rhythm very close to Sly & Robbie’s for Ernest Wilson’s I Know Myself – and Praise Jah Anytime which contains the football metaphor, "Don't wait for the Devil slide tackle before you go running to the Father for a miracle".
And there are also plenty of love songs – both romantic and universal – to mellow the pot. Love or Leave gives a heartfelt ultimatum on the haunting minor key Foundation rhythm, whereas Feeling for Love rides the new-wave ska shuffle boogie of the Work Off, familiar from the Perfect outing. Irie Vibrations’ smooth and soulful works have a sunny mood that suits Luciano’s rich singing and gruff spoken-word interludes fine.
Naturally, this record doesn't feel like as much of a sea-change as United States of Africa. But this is a balanced, satisfying set, showcasing good songwriting and quality vocals from ‘Jah Messenger’. So while some will hope he takes what he has gained on his travels back to Jamaica for his next album, let's celebrate another job well done in the meantime.