Muta is back — which, depending on your viewpoint, is either a wonderful thing or just kinda like “Uh, okay.” He is the foremost “dub poet”; which means, basically, that he is a reggae guy who can’t really sing. He’s got a nice loud declaimy voice, which has served him well on many albums for two decades and (his current gig) in his gig as one of Jamaica’s most popular deejays.
But this is his first new album since 1994, so if you’re already a fan, you’re gonna want this hugely, because it’s classic Muta. He gets political on “Life And Debt,” rootsy on the remake of the old ’50s song “The Monkey” (you know the one, all the monkeys decide that humans could not possibly have descended from them because we’re all such assholes to each other), inspirational on “I Truly Believe.” He does a nice trick in the last song, doing an extended remix of “Dis Poem,” his biggest hit.
He doesn’t sing, but he kind of speaksings like Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady — if that annoys you, you’ll hate him. And if you can’t stand a record where the beats seem like they came out of a can even though real musicians played them — well, then this ain’t your record neither.
But if you’re down with a politically savvy dude with one of Jamaica’s great voices, then give it a try. And don’t be afraid, feminists — Muta dedicates this album to Pele Lanier, his manager who recently died, and does two touching pro-woman tunes that are pretty forward-thinking, considering the casual sexism of a lot of current dancehall tracks. So that’s a bonus.
Rounder Records: http://www.rounder.com