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Selasee & the Fafa Family Time for Peace

On his third album, titled Time for Peace, Selasee and his backing Fafa Family band work to recapture the joyful spirit of reggae's commercial heyday. It's informed less by the boundary-pushing social consciousness of Exodus than by the earnest, sunny sentimentality of "No Woman, No Cry."

That's not to say that Selasee (who was born in Ghana but now resides in Colorado, and cites Bob Marley as his chief influence) doesn't attempt to touch on social issues with his new album. On the title track, he sings about being haunted by "gunshots and explosions" throughout most of his childhood, before adding that, "as a blessing from the most high… now I can see children playing again." Such evocative imagery successfully drives his message home, but before long he unfortunately loses that razor focus by relying on generically vague lyrics about unity and equality. On opening track "Fly Away," Selasee unfortunately falls into the same trap, singing bland platitudes about "flying away" and "climbing the highest mountain." This is a far too common occurrence throughout the disc.

The music itself is perpetually upbeat throughout the album, missing the kind of gritty tension that its anti-war title suggests. However, that incessantly positive tone makes Time for Peace an undeniably pleasant listen, and Selasee sings with such joyous conviction that even his most clichéd lyrics sound impassioned. One thing keeps these endlessly sweet tunes from devolving entirely into sentimental mush: a top notch horn section, courtesy of the Fafa Family, featuring flaring trumpets and a sweltering saxophone that give the music some much needed swagger and distinctiveness.

If Selasee brought that same sort of daring originality to his lyrics and the other instruments, Time for Peace would come closer to the Rasta classics it is indebted to, instead of so frequently sagging into reggae-tinged easy listening. (Independent)