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Raver Reviews: Spiritual ‘Awakening’ (VP Records) 2017

Spiritual’s Awakening just may be the first album of the “post-revival” era.

This album from Spiritual, a rasta artist hailing from Allman Town, West Kingston is vintage roots reggae at its finest.

While some are comparing the album to the classic reggae albums of the seventies, Awakening is more reminiscent of the modern roots sound that characterized Burning Spear’s The World Should Know and Israel Vibration’s Praises, culturally themed collections featuring live instrumentation, high-end production, and a sound that is more international than it is authentically Jamaican.

Representing Clifton ‘Specialist’ Dillon’s Oufah Music label, Spiritual has a distinctive vocal that evokes the spirit of legendary artists like Spear, Joseph Hill, and Clinton Fearon.

Although Specialist is more closely linked with artists like Shabba Ranks, OMI, and Alborosie, the sound he and Spiritual create for Awakening is distinctly different than anything he’s been associated with before. It is an extraordinary album for Spiritual. And while I hesitate to use the term “masterpiece” to describe the music that is contained within these fourteen tracks, it is as good if not better than any other release this year. It certainly deserves a Grammy nod. If it doesn’t get a Grammy nomination then the system is a fraud.

Featuring top notch production from Bobby Digital, Clifton “Specialist” Dillon and Horace Chin, Awakening finds Spiritual catching a serious vibe with legendary players like Nambo Robinson (trombone), Dean Fraser (sax), Sly Dunbar and Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace (drums), Ian Coleman (guitar) and Robbie Lyn (keys). The album is brilliantly tracked from start to finish – never letting up for a second.

Every track on the album has a purpose and Spiritual comes with an energy and spirit that is simply boundless. While many hear Spear and Hill in Spiritual’s vocal, on tracks like “Stand Up To Rasta,” the first single from the album, I hear echoes of Israel Vibration’s lyrical genius Albert “Apple Gabriel” Craig.

His vocal volley with Iba Mahr (my favorite modern roots vocalist) on “Liberation” is outstanding – a truly upfull and inspirational performance from both artists.

Spiritual makes a bold statement with his sophomore album Awakening. He brings the biblical like few other contemporary artists can. His talent as both a singer and songwriter seems limitless. In an era when many of reggae’s torchbearers are non-Jamaican, Spiritual has come like another Moses to stake his claim for the homeland.

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