Odel's second full length album 'Redemption' does it again: roots rock reggae with a rebel attitude.
Harder than ever Odel delivers the message that Jah Love is true - and that those who know it will find their redemption.
2. Into Forever
3. Trod Natty
4. Sum Burnt
5. Harder They Come
9. Dry Harbor Mountain
10. For The Love Of You
Jamaican born and Canadian resident Odel Johnson's second album titled Redemption gets a late summer 2010 release on Ohm Grown Records. Johnson is a percussionist and drummer, but it's his vocals that really impress on this piece; his voice occasionally reminds me of Burning Spear and Peter Tosh, with unhurried and righteous fervour. The standout track is the opener 'Chronicles', a reminder that we write the stories of the times.
Backed up by a crisp band and brass section, musically there is nothing out of place, and it's not strictly reggae, with a North American rock influence. 'Trod Natty' is rock reggae; tunes such as 'Testify' are more rock than reggae, with power chords and howling lead guitar, and 'Change' will have Grateful Dead fans turning their heads.
The last three songs are back on a roots tip, with the title track 'Redemption', a paean to grandmotherly love and advice, "She spoke to us of His Majesty, Reminding us of family". That's followed by the excellent 'Dry Harbour Mountains' about St. Anne in Jamaica, with its Mac the Knife style bassline. There is a sweet rocksteady song "For the love of you' rounding off the album.
IRIE UP Magazine
Once again, roots reggae master Odel has given us a set of songs that touch the heart, the head and the feet, true Jah Music to elevate the spirit and keep the dance floor filled. Odel gets better and better with each succeeding release!
Roger Steffens, Reggae Historian and Founder of BEAT Magazine
The talented Odel Johnson, no longer just a percussionist, but now an accomplished singer, songwriter, and producer, released a new album, Redemption, last fall. Last I checked it was still in the top 5 on the Canadian reggae charts, and for good reason, it's a great listen.
The live instrumentation alone on Redemption is fantastic, it had me skanking in my seat at work! I especially love the use of the horns on this album. But as good as the band is, Odel Johnson's singing voice is equally impressive. His voice has great depth and is capable of conveying complex emotions, and thankfully he doesn't shy away from using it. The lyrics are uplifting and hopeful; his songs speak of love and community, African identity, Marcus Garvey, and the desire for repatriation.
This is one powerful reggae album. Not only does Odel have a big voice that he has no hesitation in using at full capacity, but the production (Odel is listed as producer too) is a perfect match for it. Together, that means it's impossible to ignore this music - not that you would want to, but if you happen to like your reggae as background for reading or studying as well as for dancing and listening, well, you'll have to stick with the skanking and grooving this time around.
To Odel's own songs in a moment, but first let's tackle the two covers. This is the first time in years I've really enjoyed Jimmy Cliff's classic "The Harder They Come." It had become such a familiar sound (as sung by Cliff) that it didn't register for me anymore. Not until Odel wrapped his voice and production around it, that is; now suddenly it seems fresh and vital once again. I wish I could say the same for the closing Isley Brother's cover, but alas, mediocre soul has been reincarnated as mediocre lover's rock. (Yes, I realize that mediocrity and lover's rock often go hand in hand, but for a much more worthy and seductive effort give an ear to the second track, "Into Forever," where the backing singers shine.)
The album's many highlights include such Odel originals as "Chronicles," which benefits from highly appealing horn charts (as do the majority of tracks, come to think of it); "Testify," where stinging guitar and pounding drums emphasize the rock within the album's roots-rock-reggae genre, and "Changes," which fortunately is strong enough not merely to survive, but to benefit from, the all-out arrangement it gets here. As I said, this is not an album to be ignored; with impressive songs powerfully sung and treated to first-rate production, it's going to keep you wide awake.
I bought a Messenjah album on vinyl last year; it blew my head off. They're like an Ontario version of Steel Pulse. Odel Johnson drummed for that band and it's clear the man knows a thing or 20 about fat, soulful reggae grooves. On his second solo release, Johnson proves that the success of 2005's Juno nominated Mind and Body Sold was no fluke; Johnson has truly made the transition from drummer to reggae bard. The reggae tracks burst with juicy roots riddims and his taut arrangements are more reminiscent of Tosh and Marley than contemporary roots. "Into Forever" is well written and executed reggae cum R&B; "Dry Harbour Mountains" is a pure slice of early '80s Joseph Hill; and "Trod Natty" could stand against any roots track.
There are certainly some killer tracks here, particularly the opening "Chronicles," which puts the current state of things into historical context, "Dry Harbor Mountains," a potent invoking of Rasta, roots and Marcus Garvey, and "Trod Natty," where horn and guitar swells drive the message home. Plus, the title song is a shot of pure reggae with redemptive power indeed.
NICE UP Magazine
When you think of roots reggae who do you think of? Bob Marley? Peter Tosh? All the big names that are now gone? Roots Reggae is alive and well and there's a Jamaican-Canadian artist, Odel, who has put out a new CD: Redemption.
Drummer for many bands such as Juno award winning Messenjah, Odel has traveled around the world spreading his beats in good fashion. Now, with his second album, he is spreading good words just as he did with his first. Redemption is different than Odel's first CD 'Mind and Body Sold' which was nominated for a Juno in 2005. The title alone lets listeners know that this is a spiritual album. Odel's first was more political and hard hitting. Redemption is soft, smooth, and whispers positive melodies into your ear.
There is no selfishness in Odel's lyrics, a testament of his true love for music, all peoples, and the world. Knowing Odel's history as a musician, the political vibe that was ever present in his first album is missing in his second. Songs of being harassed at the border for being a dredlock of colour, and other songs criticizing the materialism of the world we live in were missed, greatly.
Looking forward to a third album, a mix of the first two with new experiments would be welcomed by longtime fans and ones new to Odel's music. Pick up Redemption or download it. It's worth your time and energy.
BLACK COFFEE POET