Luciano ‘In The Name of Love’ (Mountain Peak) 4/5

Roots reggae singer Luciano Messenjah returns with a diverse selection of sounds that is nonetheless tightly bound together by a common message in the lyrics of the nefarious consequences of war. He branches out into blues and gospel on the infectious opener, a reworking of the Ramsey Lewis 1965 smash soul-pop hit, ‘Wade in the water’, now adopted by northern soul fans as a definitive instrumental, and this is followed later by the folk-influenced acoustic guitar plus vocals of, ‘Serve Jah’.

Underpinning everything is the omnipresent twin influence of Dennis Brown in the vocals and Bob Marley in the message. The former can be heard especially on songs such as, ‘Hear oh Lord’, and, ‘The prophet rides again’, while Marley is all over the joyful, ‘Jah send your blessings’, an album highlight and arguably the strongest tune on offer, while the message only departs briefly on the distinctly nu-soul inflected instrumentation of, ‘Don’t walk away’, which is something of a surprise. Is Luciano making a pitch to attract a wider audience and demonstrate his ability to deliver outside of the reggae idiom? Even if that is the case, he still sounds authentic as a roots reggae singer and succeeds in simultaneously conveying a serious message on the theme of war while delivering the catchiest of chorus over an infectious keyboard vamp on, ‘Ooh la la la’. The music of Luciano is accessible, but still manages to communicate thought-provoking lyrics.

Tim Stenhouse