Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Vault Reviews: "Comfort My People" by Chrisinti

Until the year 2030, when Reggae music is scheduled (at least for me) to take over the entire world in every way, I'll be very comfortable in saying that the genre, as a whole, is underrated. Every radio station, television station, digital station and every other kind of station that there is should play Reggae music and they should play it twenty-four hours a day, every day - without question. It is just that amazing, everyone knows it and we just accept that. That gives us about nineteen years or so to prepare for that day and I think an excellent place to begin would be in examining some of the outstanding artists that tend to go underrated and underappreciated in Reggae circles by some of the more knowledgeable fans. We could certainly look at some on the higher end who figure to have a more mainstream level of appeal and exactly why the rest of the world haven't caught on and that’s one thing - it's another to think of why WE have actually yet to catch on when an there is an obviously and considerably high level of talent present. In cases like these, I almost always point to the career of amazing singer, Mark Wonder. Outside of publicity, promotion and those type of things, someone will have to sit me down and explain to me, in great detail one day, exactly why Wonder hasn't become every bit the star as some of the more popular Roots Reggae singers of his era. It's just a mystery to me. I don't get it! Going down that same trail, we'd eventually arrive at Prince Theo who may not be this wonderfully refined vocalist that Wonder is, but is very strong and 'should' definitely be held in a greater esteem than he is. Both Prince Theo and Mark Wonder, at least to my knowledge, come from very varied backgrounds, however, so those things that I mentioned, like "publicity", don't seem to be things which would inherently come their way. The same cannot be said, at all, for Chrisinti on the other hand. The singer has just seemed to 'slip between the cracks' despite having a history which has seen and heard him stop at some of the biggest producers in the business in his career. Oh, and adding to the mystery of why he is not amongst the TRULY most revered and respected modern Roots Reggae singers is the fact that he is incredibly talented. Gifted with what is easily one of the best voices of any era of the music and a delivery which, when at its best, is downright stunning, Chrisinti figures to be one of the most presentable and marketable figures in Reggae today (and for the past fifteen years or so) and yet fans, casual and hardcore seem reluctant to step up and give up the most fulfilling of acknowledgements.

One of the most interesting and probably THE most fruitful step in Chrisinti's musical journey is all of his wonderful work at the Kings of Kings label for Iley Dread. That same imprint would also further along the careers of so many others, most notably Norris Man (and also Achis Reggae favourite, Ce'Cile and ace producer Scatta) who is a very interesting comparison point here. I once read a bio on Norris Man which actually used the phrase "struggling Reggae singer" in reference to him and that was accurate at the time, but even he, as polarizing as he certainly can be, is more popular than Chrisinti and held in higher regard by many and many who are well informed on the genre, as I said. Another thought would be if I were to ask you - YOU SITTING THERE (hopefully you're seated if you're about to read all of this shit) - what was Chrisinti's biggest hit to date? What would you come up with? While having a variety of big tunes throughout his career, you could make the point that he is one of a very short list of distinguished artists who has yet to have a unanimous hit, above all others, in his career and I don’t know if that's a good thing or a bad one actually (his single most popular track is probably 'Oh Sheila' actually).

"Again" [2005]

So maybe it is only fitting that such an artist would also have in his career what is easily one of the most underrated and downright criminally forgotten albums of the modern era, which is exactly what "Comfort My People" is and has become in the near decade since its release. Of course, that same year would be a mighty one in recent Reggae memory in terms of album, but one would think that an album this undeniably strong would have even some sort of 'underground' (hate that word) type of following which lifts it up and shows it to be the immaculate project that it was. The album was a VP Records release, executive produced by the aforementioned Colin 'Iley Dread' Levy and was just a beautiful seventeen track release and while every single tune was absolutely stellar (but not far from it), the album was completely devoid of any bad moments AT ALL. I could probably name you a few albums with such credentials from even lesser known names which are held in higher regards and that's a damn shame! Also, and I'll go into this more in just a bit, when we throw around descriptors in Reggae music, we often use words like 'inspirational' and 'uplifting' and the likes and I pretty much dislike using all of them (because everyone uses them), but you almost have to acquiesce in this case because the album was all of those things and it worked and it is STILL working! While Chrisinti would come back a few years on and release a next album, "Again", which was a decent set, it wasn't nearly as strong and I'd probably be close to stunned if Chrisinti ever reached these levels on an album again (if Chrisinti is actually reads this and wants to prove me wrong, however, please do! I am wrong MUCH more often than I am something other than wrong). But, there's never anything wrong with celebrating wonderful vibes and that's exactly what we're going to do as we take a listen back to "Comfort My People".

The first thing you're sure to notice on the album and pretty much anything else that Chrisinti touches is that voice. Jah Cure is definitely the finest singer I have ever heard in my life, his voice is just PERFECT, however, in the absence of a definitive number two and certainly specifically in Reggae (unless I'm REALLY overlooking someone) (and I probably am), Chrisinti might have as good of a claim to it as anyone else. The thing is absolutely sterling - with this very loud force to it, but it sounds like he's made a stop at every great vocal coach in the world. The first spin of that sonic shot we get on Chrisinti's opus, "Comfort My People", from 2002, is on the excellent biblical intro/title track. The intro does what intros should do in outlining the goal of the album which is to follow and you won't get very far into the next track without realizing just how accurate it was. That "next track" is one of the album's finest as the SPECTACULAR 'Better Days' comes through. I talked about tunes of inspiration and this song, form how it sounds through to what is said, this is a musical boost for the spirit and, thinking of what has become of this album, it is definitely the type of track which should be remembered in a much greater way than it is because it such a powerful piece. Next is a cover track of a Stevie Wonder tune, 'Place In the Sun'. I didn't make the connection on my own of the song being a cover, because I was unaware of the original, but after listening to both tunes I can well say that this is probably one of the most inventive cover tracks that I've heard. Chrisinti adds his own colours and tones and makes the song his own while clearly giving credit to Wonder. My appreciation of this tune has changed over the years, but these days it is a BEAUTIFUL song. Another 'handsome' selection wraps up the beginning of "Comfort My People" in 'Simplier' [sic]. This tune is just a HEALTHY piece of discussion material and in so many different ways, not the least of which is the fact that it rides the Young & Old Riddim which now has me recalling that I just used the word "beautiful" not very long ago at all. But what really strikes me here is that the tune is one of a few which DIRECTLY go back to the title and premise of the album (and maybe, by extension, Chrisinti's entire catalog and career) because the singer just reminds everyone to streamline our lives and appreciate what we have before going in a more chaotic and stressful direction. This one, I wish could say has helped a lot of people, but I don't know that it has and it's just so unfortunate that so few people have it in memory, but I absolutely love this song and it is clearly one of the biggest highlights you'll find here.

Now! Should you want to go back and ignore the rest of this review and how much I love this album, save for this one point, then go ahead (I don't care anyway). Buried somewhere on "Comfort My People" is one of the best songs I've ever heard by anyone, anywhere. 'Land Of The Nazarine' is absolutely MAMMOTH! TEARS! Besides being pure candy for your ears, the song brings in ideas of repatriation, of family, of a greater connection and observance of the connection with The Almighty and, again, it steers us back to this prevailing idea of comfort and how Chrisinti says he has been instructed to bring an "ease" to the people! BOOM! And it's lost on this album, but not to me and, now, hopefully not to you!

Along with what is to be heard on that dominant track, Chrisinti is sure to give thanks to His Majesty throughout "Comfort My People" and, in doing so, he provided the album with some of its more memorable moments, which is saying a lot on an album with seventeen "memorable moments". 'Long Live The King' is one of the pieces on the highest end of the quality scale in that group and for the entire album as well. This one is STRAIGHT FORWARD as can be on a praising track but what it lacks in uniqueness, it more than makes up for in its unquestionable beauty. Right after that song is a more colourful effort in 'Mightier Than Them' (anyone else just really fond of the word "mightier" for some reason?).

“We mightier than them!
Go round dem in any way!
Jah mek we be powerful than dem!
The heathen dem just get cut down with love!
We mightier than them!
Slew dem in any way!
Powerful than dem!
The heathen dem just get cut down with love!”

This song is, as the chorus says, POWERFUL. While not being one of the more spectacularly vibed tunes here, you can just feel like a 'tremble in Chrisinti's voice as he seems to project his voice (while not pushing his range (and also while sounding just a bit like the aforementioned Jah Cure at times)) to grab the furthest listener! Big tune. And then there's 'Set Me Free'! This tune is interesting because it was actually produced by Yah Breeze, who would go on to helm the entire "Again" album and the chemistry producer and singer had at that point was evident immediately because here they turn in not only one of the best songs on this album, but a tune which makes itself very easy to stick with the listener.

“Oh keeper of my soul
Hear the voices of thy fold
Extend thy mercy it might -
Send us Moses tonight
Lend us Brother Moses for awhile
The heathen ah buck and ah bite
And that ain’t pleasant in thy sight
With no respect for human life -
They seek my soul to feed their appetite
They all want to take a bite”

Chrisinti calls for help from The Most High and does so with this all-encompassing, elixir-like (meaning a definitive ending CURE), approach in "Moses". There's a moment in the song - "send us Moses tonight" - which has such a large meaning that it really becomes THE lyrical standout on the album to my opinion. 'Sing Aloud' is another strong creation. This one comes complete with a KNOCKING Nyah drum backing (back in the days when at least one such song was fairly requisite on Roots Reggae album, a quality which I've recently noticed disappearing as of late, unfortunately) and finds the singer just giving thanks and praise in a MIGHTY form. And lastly in this line would be the album's only official combination as Louie Culture joins Chrisinti on the BIG 'Shine Your Light'. Just always like hearing Culture rhyming on something and on this one in particular, he was in a fine form with his typical straight forward style which ALWAYS made room for a nice melody (and in that, as far as DJ's/Chanters, he was always one of the best). Just a delightful piece.

'No More Rain'

On the remaining selections on the album, Chrisinti continues to offer upliftment and empowerment on a variety of different levels while managing, COMPLETELY, to keep the quality high. 'Crazy Glue' has probably become one of the album's most popular songs and it isn't very surprising considering that it is the only original love song on the album. It also just happens to utilize the same GORGEOUS riddim as Norris Man's 'Bad Road' and without shock, Chrisinti makes it his own. Speaking of doing just that - he also turns 'No More Rain' into a sweet vibe of his own, just as earlier on the album with 'Place In The Sun'. Check the Gospel-ish and energetic 'Sentimental Reasons' (which is probably another remake). This thing is just all over the place in its mood. Whether going up or down or fast or slow, Chrisinti shines on the song which will give you quite a bit of trouble in removing it from your brain. 'In Due Season' is just a great vibe and really although I've said it too much (of course, I don't care), it's just TOO GOOD to not be heard by a wide audience and it is another inspirational type of track as well. The same is to be said for 'New Tomorrow' which comes with such a familiar vibes that it almost sounds like the very first time I've heard something like this (instead of the millionth - which is far more accurate). This one really strikes me because of its almost outward-looking type of delivery. Here we find Chrisinti taking the "comfort" from a less personal level to a more global one which is very interesting. The last GREAT song on "Comfort My People" is 'Win Or Lose' (the two final songs are mixed up on the album) and it is one of the greatest on the project altogether.

“Just like how Moses set the children of Israel free
So the manipulation of Blacks must end like slavery
Why must our brothers divide when we need unity?
Mama Africa is strong!
You can see HER strength in me!

Win or lose now, striving to rule my destiny
Win or lose now, I’m being the best that I can be
Win or lose now, who have eyes to see will see
Win or lose -
You will see the joy in me!

My everyday move is with Jah who is my guidance
I put my trust in HIM and find blessed assurance
Though some will think that it is not all necessary
That Jah in me said I must love all my enemies”

Big message and a big sound. Finally is 'Run Away Illusion' which is probably my least favourite offering here, but it isn't a bad song at all and would have stood favourably on the second album (it's kind of R&B-ish, which was a vibe much more prevalent on "Again").


Overall, I really like it (duh)! On a personal side, for someone who . . . Just has A LOOOOOOOOOT of problems, this album has been a guaranteed mood lift for quite a few years for me and for everyone else who has fallen in love with "Comfort My People", I’m positive that it is the same feeling. Going back to that connection - You can really feel that a meticulous effort was made to bring songs together which would have that effect - to uplift the people and to really just make the audience feel good. As strange as this may sound, that is a rare quality on a full album, even one from the Roots Reggae arena and, within that, you could very well make the case that "Comfort My People" was a *concept album* of sorts. Regardless of what it was, it was brilliant and really the only thing which keeps me from declaring it a 'modern classic' is that it wasn't lyrically at that top level throughout and that isn't what Chrisinti is known for (although it isn't awful in that respect either, obviously). An album so good, with so many attractive points and so FULL shouldn't be what this album is today, if you haven't yet, definitely pick up "Comfort My People" by Chrisinti today: One of the most underrated albums of all time.

Rated: 4.5/5
VP Records
CD + Digital

Chrisinti @ Facebook

Review #338


  1. Yes! I've been staring at this one for awhile. Picked it up a couple times, but got distracted. Maybe he's overlooked because of his name looks like Christianity?