Livin' Soul Sweet Lane

Thank Jah for reggae music because without it Parisian cafés might sink into the Seine in a Celine Dion-induced foie gras haze. For some reason or other the French love reggae and bands like the 13-member Livin’ Soul have taken pains to make you believe Jackie Mittoo, Tommy McCook and Duke Reid were close personal friends. Sweet Lane takes the oldies route and is heavily inspired by rocksteady-era Jamaican music, although the occasional steel drum solo makes you think perhaps Livin’ Soul got their islands mixed up. The album starts off in a dreamy acoustic chant-song with water droplet accompaniment, giving the impression of a seaside Rasta reasoning — helped considerably by the fact singer Seb Daugas sounds uncannily like Culture front man Joseph Hill — on the end times warning "Judgement a Come.” "Vampire,” despite a chorus melody ripped off Peter Tosh’s song of the same name, features some astoundingly delicious overdriven B3 organ and "Richmen,” with its airy wandering melodica, completes the missing link between Provencal accordion buskers and Augustus Pablo. All in all, Livin’ Soul is a fine tribute to the roots of reggae but, with a little more ingenuity, they could be a great beacon of a new France/Jamaican hybrid. (Bros)