Reviews June 23, 2017
This is reggae through a kaleidoscope. Jamaican-Canadian singer/songwriter Ammoye is a soul rebel on a soul path, singing her way to her higher self. Reggae is the light shining through her kaleidoscope, refracting into a spectrum of musical shapes and colors on her forthcoming album, The Light. As Ammoye says, she’s “a lightworker.” The singer, born in Clarendon, Jamaica and now living in Toronto, Canada, has been creating since she was a child, finding solace from the tribulations of her youth in the church choir, and sharing songs and poetry with her family. Growing up in Jamaica, she was surrounded by gospel music and roots reggae, the sounds which anchor her music. As a young woman in Toronto, she built musical communities: a women’s gospel group, and an organization gathering and supporting like-minded artists. You can hear, in songs like “The Light” and “Soul Rebel,” that Ammoye continues to look outward with her message of unity, self-love and positivity: “You are a rebel/the greatest ever/A gift to all/a soul to be treasured.” In her words, “I want to inspire women and girls to find that sense of love and light within themselves, not outside themselves. I want to share the messages I have gotten, the healing I’ve received.” https://open.spotify.com/album/5jgSPiU2705SXxQ7CfjiAD Her music is emphatically full of light and painted with bright colors, her lyrics unflappably positive and full of ambition. She’s fighting an uphill battle, striving for recognition and respect within a heavily male-dominated reggae music scene. But it would seem like she’s making serious strides on her soul path: A spiritual awakening several years ago brought her to return to Jamaica to find musicians and producers to work worth. There, she ended up working with much-respected producers like Sly Dunbar and Donovan Germain and a favorite house band, the Di Cru Band. The product is this album, The Light, which has since gotten several Juno nominations (Canada’s Grammys). Ammoye’s sound on this album varies widely across its 17 songs. She plays with rocksteady, roots reggae, dub, electro-pop, dancehall and gospel-flavored r&b, to varying effect. Her smooth, rich voice holds true throughout, showing her adaptability and passion at all levels. At times the stylistic leaps can be a bit jarring, however, shifting the mood substantially right as you’ve settled in to one sound. “Are You Ready” is a bonafide electro-pop jam, “Reggae Rockit Boy” is straight-ahead rocksteady, “Honeymoon” is a bumping bit of dancehall and “Don’t Count Me Out” is old-school rootsy dub. There’s something here for everyone, but you won’t necessarily be jamming throughout the entirety. The Light is like Ammoye’s whole musical life squeezed into one record, driven by her persistently uplifting credo of positivity, unity and love. It’s a spread of beautiful, well-produced songs that will undoubtedly brighten your day. The Light is out on June 29: check back on her website for more.