Album Review by Jonathan Dyer
St. Lucian born Taj Weekes is billed as everything from preacher man to businessman, but primarily he sees himself as a storyteller on this, his debut album with Adowa, the band he formed and named as a tribute to his Ethiopian grandfather.
As the name of his band suggests, this is an intensely personal album on which Weekes tells stories that are filled with both elements of the record’s title. From the breezy and infectious SCREAM OUT MELLOW to MPLA, an eloquent and passionate lament for his activist brother who died in mysterious circumstances, Weekes offers the listener a window on his life and a world view that encompasses history, faith and resistance with impressive ease.
It may be more of a comment about where Reggae is at the present time but despite the depth of the subject matter, musically the album offers little by way of anything new. This may seem a churlish criticism to make, but what is essentially the autobiography of a highly engaging individual needs and deserves something better. The album is certainly well crafted and expertly produced (by Weekes himself), lending many affectionate and reverent nods to the masters of the genre, but all too often seems to hide in their shadows when there would seem to be potential for it to stand out from the crowd.
That said, Weekes is undoubtedly something of a gem, albeit an unpolished one. In these days of battery-farmed ‘popstars’ who have no more interesting tales to tell than carefree evenings with their contemporaries at China White in the pages of ‘Heat’, to hear genuinely compelling stories of substance told with passion makes a refreshing change. For this alone, Weekes deserves to be applauded and placed near the top of the “Ones To Watch” list.