Lost Tribes Of The Sun/Various Renewal

A loose association of "tribespeople” from Seattle to Vancouver to Toronto make up Renewal, a collection of spoken word, soul crooning and low-key hip-hop jams. The art of the compilation is difficult to master, and spoken word recordings in particular are a tough sell — the finest of lines lies between brilliance and eye-rolling cliché, and treading into the latter’s territory is always painful. While Renewal doesn’t break any ground or flow together particularly well as a whole, it has managed to collect some very poignant talent in one place, and gives the impression that the world would be much better off if these nine voices had more of a say. Optimistic dreaming aside, there are some very nice pieces on here. Toronto’s Kamau, a rich spoken word poet in his own right, contributes two songs from his First EP, and D’bi Young electrifies with her powerful patwa-soaked "Blood.” On Renewal, Vancouver’s Benjamin Arcé shows presence of mind and charisma through words, the sounds outdoors traffic and jangling pocket change allowing for a strong semblance of intimacy. Dov Gray’s contributions are gentle gems, with "Beat Lisp” providing one of the disc’s smoothest, most soulful highlights. Dov lets his genuine rhymes spill and slide all over lazy guitar strums and sparse vocals for a beautiful, head-bobbing result. (Independent)