Randeesh Courage

Courage is full of uplifting reggae vibes from the conscious roots tradition. Born in Western Belize, where Boom and Shine and Bruckdown sounds weave Latin and Caribbean rhythms, Randeesh is now based in Western Canada but does well to remember his roots, particularly the sounds of the Eastern coastal Belize, which is greatly influenced by Jamaican music. Randeesh has gathered about him some heavy weights of reggae, particularly producer Michael Hyde (Big Mountain, Ziggy Marley), engineer Errol Brown (Bob Marley, Lauryn Hill) and guitarists Earl "Chinna" Smith from the legendary High Times Band to record a bottom heavy, yet lyrically smooth album. Randeesh's songs are Jah-centric and nature based, full of positive messages and religious assurances. Tracks like "Jah Knows" and "Give Thanks and Praises" are forthright in their devotion, while others, such as "Have to Try," focus on a more generic positive message. Though the album starts off weakly with the unenthusiastic "People,” it quickly hits its stride with "Courage,” lead by an infectious keyboard line and a steady bass throb. Other tracks keep this good pace, with the exception perhaps of "Bob Marley is a River of Love,” which is a bit too much hagiography. The main criticism throughout though, and this is apparent in about 90 percent of the material here, is that Randeesh's wooden vocals rarely display the emotion of the songs. Even in "Situation," an excellently arranged track with strong ties to the Wailers’ Confrontation-era sound, Randeesh's serene and understated singing hardly seems like the vehicle needed for lyrics like "We shall save this nation,” a lyric Randeesh's hero Marley would have pulled out all the stops on. (Independent)