ANNICIA BANKS – Up Front

Raw Vue Music 2021

ANNICIA BANKS –
Up Front

Singing her songs of freedom, Kingstonian queen of dancehall stands up to be counted.

Given the overall vector of Jamaican liberation, it’s hardly surprising that most of the reggae-related surprises in recent years comes from female artists, Annicia Banks being the last but not least of those. She spent a lot of time on-stage to guarantee the success of the results of her visit to the studio whence the islander emerged with six originals and one cover which are bound to firmly establish this artiste on the scene.

Her debut mini-album may seem too ebullient, its opener “Jamaica Forever” flowing into focus with a burst of laughter to extol, over rasta-related tasty toasting, the pleasures of insular existence – mostly of the liberty to be yourself – as Banks’ vigorous vocals breathe the very essence of such life, yet there’s fiery ire in the belligerent, brass-smeared “Hush” whose “Shall overcome!” refrain could be this EP’s title. Sure, the riddims behind “It’s Too Late” and “It’s You” are polished enough to reflect a sunlit affection, Annicia’s voice turning all silky over slinky guitar and sinewy, if effervescent, beat, and her take on Dennis Brown’s “Love Has Found Its Way” feels as contemporary as it gets, given sweet ivories-delivered waves and eventually boiled down to dub, but “Free Free Free” emerges as a rousing anthem of love and emancipation.

And then there’s “Restore My Soul”: the record’s spiritual finale which sheds a different light on this performer – a glorious rhythm-and-blues force to be reckoned with.

****1/2

March 17, 2021

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