Ali Campbell - Flying High

2010-02-22 07:47
Flying High
Pity then that it’s such an... impersonal effort. The production sounds like someone read a manual on making pop records. It's not that it's that bad, it's just not distinctive – and that's quite something for a man with the most recognisable voice in UK pop and reggae.

Ali is a singer capable of soulful delivery, and that does almost break through the monotony of the beat-driven reggaeriffic rhythms now and again. Unfortunately, most of the songs can be only be told apart by who the collaborator is – Shaggy, Craig David, Lady Saw, Sway, the German singer Gentleman.... That's not enough for a third album from a player who's been in the game for decades.

On the upside, Sway does a great job of energising "What You Gonna Do About It", while "Out From Under" is the only song that gets close to anything you'd expect from the guy that covered Jimmy Cliff and Niel Diamond hits to acclaim.

The tipped track for this country is "Visions" featuring Danny (this guy is everywhere) K and the Soweto Gospel Choir. It's syrupy, obvious, corny and completely scandalous in its appeal to the focus on the country this year. South Africans will no doubt love it.

So sure, some may feel it unfair, but Ali Campbell should be held to a higher standard than this, no matter how scaled-down his solo productions are supposed to be from those lofty UB40 years. I mean...Craig David?

The former UB40 frontman must have been flying high. He found the energy to write most of the album, produce it, mix it, collaborate with a number of artists on it… and oh yes, perform most of it. And you can feel the freedom and light heartedness in the mix, for sure.

What to read next: Kalahari

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.