I-GRADE RECORDS drops THE SOUND from PRESSURE today, marking the second great album this year from the Virgin Islands new roots reggae factory. As I stated in my review of MIDNITE’S BEAUTY FOR ASHES, the reggae crown still resides in the Virgin Islands. As if we needed more proof after MIDNITE’S best effort since 2012’s CHILDREN OF JAH (and a new roots masterpiece in my opinion), I-GRADE releases to the streets yet another remarkable album. Hailing from St. Thomas, PRESSURE AKA Delyno Brown is more singer than chanter, his sound and vibe honed throughout the late 1990s on the Star Lion sound system. His voice is a distinguished one. One that is clearly influenced by the artists he was influenced by as a youth. With the emotive power and wisdom of Luciano, the energy of Capleton, and the solemness of Jah Mason, Pressure’s voice is one that can be accessed and appreciated by most reggae fans.
THE SOUND finds Pressure in top form. He coasts magnificently on an acoustic vibe on the opener “Rise Today,” an age-old song about persevering and pushing forward. If you are a fan of the Virgin Islands sound and vibe, this album will fill you up as it features outstanding collaborations with the likes of Volcano, Midnite, and Ras Batch. His track “Stop This Train” with Jamaica’s Lutan Fyah is most impressive. Both Batch and Fyah were untouchable on MIDNITE’S BEAUTY FOR ASHES and PRESSURE is well-served here by both. PRESSURE goes conscious and poetic on “The Rain,” riding tight on a solid Songbird riddim as if he owns it:
“The rain is no different than my tears,
when I look at what my people fear,
I swear I’ll never give up the fight and show no fear,
The sun is reflecting my heart and soul,
and it’s burning me uncontrolled”
Producers ZION I KINGS, already a formidible force to reckon with, bring solid, heavy, rootsy grooves once again to this project. They are steadily compiling a catalogue of sound that is nothing if not foundational roots and culture at it’s contemporary finest. If their sound is the new sound of reggae, then I’m as optimistic as PRESSURE is about the future of this music. It is that eternal optimism – the idea of placing one foot in fron of the other and trodding forward – that I find most refreshing about this album. It is a simple ideal such as this that still has a profound effect on even the most cynical reggae fan, and there are none more cyncial, more fickle or backward-leaning than me.
Do what I did and buy this album immediately.