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Friday, November 26, 2010

Raya & Mystic Dub: Have No Fear

On Have No Fear (Uncle Don’s Records) Raya & Mystic Dub manage to touch on all the important world music trends of the last thirty years. At times the disc sounds a little like dance-friendly Sly & Robbie, UB40, and Marcia Griffiths. Have No Fear features MD stalwarts John “Carlos” Ellsworth on drums along with Mickey McKenzie (clavinet). But Raya has also assembled some of the more credible players from West Michigan’s bustling blues and jazz scene: saxophonist John Gist (Steve Hilger Band) and bassist Jim Shaneberger (Greg Nagy). Raya reminds of Sade in a couple of ways. She shines bright as both songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (accordion, Hammond C-3 organ); all nine of the tracks are originals. The old school reggae sound is often characterized by a full horn complement which is found in abundance here. Rounding out the band is blues guitarist Donald Kinsey from the national touring act The Kinsey Report. Kinsey’s slicing lead work is unmistakable; warm blues tones permeate as famously heard on Mama Africa-era Peter Tosh. Producer Kinsey has credentials behind the board for legendary Jamaican artists as the aforementioned Tosh and Bob Marley. Singer Raya is able to give “Contagious” the sought after Middle Eastern flair. “Majesty Dub” sounds like it could have showed up on the Geffrey Morgan album it’s that good. There’s a lot to like on Have No Fear particularly if you’re not a big fan of the over-populated singer/songwriter scene. Positive vibes like this have been in short supply lately. Thankfully the one-love premise never goes out of style. Have No Fear is available locally at Vertigo Music and the Jumpin’ Java Coffeehouse in Grand Haven.

Raya & Mystic Dub, 10:30pm at The West Side Inn, Muskegon, tonight and tomorrow.

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