Reggae Redemption Songs II
- reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2008 1 Oct
- Revelation, Come—Hugh DeFrance
- Teachings of His Majesty—Christafari
- Atonement—Avion Blackman
- My Redeemer—Solomon Jabby & Christafari
- Drink for Free—Dominic Balli
- Redeeming the Time—Monty G and Mr. Lynx
- My Friend—'Imisi
- Redeeming Son—Jennifer Howland
- God Bless—Nengo Vieira & Bribo D'Abraao
- Bozrah/Reggae Redemption Dub—Chirstafari
- Dub Star Revolution—Solomon Jabby
- Heaven Above Roots Remix—Avion Blackman
- All Around—Hugh DeFrance
- Glory Honor and Praise—Sherwin Gardner
- War—Rogé Abergel & Kingdom Culture
- Keep on Preaching/Keep on Dubbing—'Imisi
For a white guy with a Bible college degree, Mark Mohr must be doing a lot of things right to keep gospel-reggae powerhouse Chirstafari up and running for so long. When he discovered reggae during a trip to Jamaica as an early teen, it was love at first listen for Mohr, though one of the things he liked best was the genre's connection to marijuana use and how its biggest artists (Bob Marley included) took great pains to justify it.
Mohr's conversion to Christianity changed everything, spurring the genesis of Christafari, which in time has become the foremost authority in sanctified reggae music. Admittedly, it hasn't been easy for the band to operate in a niche within a niche, but they've done it nonetheless, toiling tirelessly, touring internationally, and creating music nonstop, including Reggae Redemption Songs II.
Far removed from the dancehall reggae beats that have dominated the pop airwaves on and off this millennium, Redemption is pure, unadulterated roots reggae and rocksteady riddims—a slow-burning collection large on bass-heavy grooves, all deeply evocative of greats including Marley, Peter Tosh, and Buddy Wailer, yet knit together by a conceptual thread about Christ's gift of redemption. It's a blissful, charming listen, almost coming across as a heart's innocent, wide-eyed response to the Lord's offering of salvation.
Rather than celebrating alone, Christafari invited a long list of guests and friends to the party. None of them are household names, but as one voice they all sing of the same Redeemer. There is one show stealer, though: Mohr's wife, Avion Blackman, contributes the otherworldly "Atonement"—her silky, almost sensuous vocals sing with such wonder and conviction of Christ's labor of love on the cross, one can't help but drop one's defenses and accept it with open arms.
The production values aren't consistent throughout. Some songs, like Solomon Jabby's "Dub Star Revolution," are almost entirely synthesized, with hardly a live instrument to be heard. Others, like Blackman's "Heaven Above Roots" and Hugh DeFrance's "All Around," sound inexplicably muddled, perhaps purposely so to make them appear like they belong in reggae's apogee during the 1960s.
Other than that, Reggae Redemption Songs II is as legitimate and delightful as reggae recordings come. Christafari has been doing this for so long, both music and message resound as loudly and boldly as ever.