Black Grass Three

For his third record, lazily titled Three, Black Grass lone man Mex further expands on his original breaks and hooks blueprint to reach the elevated heights of a fully fleshed out band sound, an impressive feat for what’s essentially a one-man show. Live instruments are key to bringing the Brit producer’s varied stylistic influences to life, be it the disc’s general hip-hop underpinnings, Mex’s genuine funk endeavours or the reggae amalgams that fill out the record. J-Live gets the call to tackle the nimble guitar lick, snappy beat and Primo-styled cuts of "Set It Straight,” though an overall lack of musical attitude leaves the other MCs a bit in the lurch. But Black Grass’s winning touch truly lies in the funk, as the soulful Dionne Charles turns it out over meaty horns, slick organ tones and sprite percussion on "How Much Can You Take,” a standout centrepiece amongst this collection of interesting ideas. (Catskills)