Album Review: “Writing’s On The Wall” by Kokumo.
Jamaica is without doubt the foremost nation in the world for reggae! However the cultural, political and social climate tends to shape the musical offerings of this glorious nation.
Kokumo is a citizen and artisan from Jamaica whose debut album Writing’s On The Wall may well be the finest recording in the dub poetry vain for many a decade. Kokumo’s delivery will obviously draw comparisons to Mutabaruka but there is an originality of style that will appeal to audiences worldwide.
Writing’s On The Wall features 12 original compositions written by Kokumo and draws upon a broad spectrum of musical colours. (Dub, folk, jazz, pop and reggae)
One of the joys of this work is the musicianship. Each participant is a master of their craft creating a firm foundation for Kokumo’s voice to fly. And what a voice!! A great example is the beautiful yet haunting song We Don’t Need Them Now featuring voice and acoustic guitar. This song reminds you of vintage Cat Stevens in the 1970s. Or listen to the immediacy of Cry Freedom with excellent background vocals by Nadine Chambers and Emma Currie. Kudos must be acknowledged to Courtney Barrett on electric guitar, Boneto “Bunny” Dryden on drums and Bear on electric bass.
A Declaration of Self finds Kokumo in reflective mood and his vocal inflections sits nicely in the mix with superb saxophone and vocal textures by Alvin Davis. One of the joys of this album is that it balances the political content (Blood Fi Oil) with great music. This is an important point because the main content addresses economic, political and social injustices in the continent of Africa and the wider Diaspora.
The impassioned cry of Deliver Me from the hands of wicked men sounds like a psalm of King David and the opening track Wounded Soldiers is applicable to many on the battlefield of life.
Writing’s On The Wall will go down in history as one of the most original recordings of Jamaica’s post colonial output.
Konig MA BMus (Hons) FMA HonBC