Cornell Campbell and Soothsayers ‘Nothing Can Stop Us’ CD/2LP/Digital (Strut) 4/5

Roots reggae singer Cornell Campbell captivated fans during the 1970s with his sensitive falsetto vocals over some of the toughest of roots riddims and so it is very welcome indeed to hear him return to recording duties after a prolonged absence with a brand new album of new lyrics backed by some of the UK’s top session musicians collectively known as the Soothsayers. In many respects this is a trip back to the golden era of roots music in Jamaica and the instantly catchy bassline and subtle use of horns on this writer’s favourite song ‘Good direction’ is a sure indication that Campbell is right back on form. The voice still delivers that distinctive understated sound and the harmony backing vocals are ideally suited to compliment the lead singer. Dennis Brown would feel at home on the minor theme soulful groove of ‘There’s a fire’, which is a potential single and has something of a lover’s rock feel to it. For those in search of a more pared down sound, ‘Conqueror’ will fit the bill accordingly with piercing horns and dub effects giving this song a harder feel. There is even some Stevie Wonder inspired 1970s keyboards and funk-tinged backbeat on ‘Never give up’ while ‘I’ll never leave’ is a real grower of a tune. Long-time fans will want to compare and contrast the original interpretation of ‘Jah Jah me no born yah’ with the new one on this set which also features it’s instrumental version. After the collective horn intro. The tempo goes up a notch and this take bears favourable comparison with the original. It is worth pointing out that the lyrics of the original have never been more relevant today. A fine return for Cornell Campbell and this should be the continuation of a long and fruitful collaboration with the Soothsayers, which began with a single ‘We’re not leaving’ back in August 2011, which is not included here.

Tim Stenhouse