In recent times Jamaican songstress Diana Rutherford has attracted attention of the international reggae community with a few notable singles and videos including "A New Day", a duet with Sizzla, "Rescue Me", "Lost In Extasy", and "Rebel", which she recorded for French producer/musician Romain Chiffre aka Sherkhan who resides in Kingston JA since 2003.
Diana Rutherford grew up in the community of August town in Kingston. The Soundsystem music nursed her childhood. Often, her father Michael Rutherford (former lead vocalist for the Ryddim Kings Band and owner of the Genuine Soundsystem) woke her up to make her sing on stage. That's how she was spotted by the Xterminator crew. So she got involved in the mid-90s new reggae generation around Phillip "Fattis" Burell, Dean Fraser, Luciano and, of course, Sizzla. At eleven years old, her parents didn't want her to follow the label and its artists on tour. They preferred a decent schooling and stable life basis for her.
Few years later, she entered the first batch of "Rising Star" (national program, and also a huge cultural event). In between hundreds of talented youths coming from the whole Island, she ended up third to big disappointment of thousands of fans and Nadine Sutherland (member of the jury). Afterwards she worked one year at Geejam studio (Portland) next to Jon Baker and Alborosie, before she teamed with Sherkhan of Tiger Records.
Diana Rutherford's much anticipated debut album "Ghetto Princess", entirely produced by Sherkhan, spreads a distinctive vibe that not limits itself to pure reggae sounds. Of course, this set contains quite a few modern reggae tunes, but the listener is also treated to songs that carry a poppy R'n'B feel or go into dancehall territory. Each and every song displays the great vocal talent of Diana Rutherford, who fully shows that she has a powerful, crisp voice. Besides that her lyrical delivery leaves no room for superfluous or meaningless phrases. Diana Rutherford is an amazing artist who delivers flawless songs -- sometimes you want to dance, sometimes just listen.
At first hear the opening track, the pompous "Harmonies Of Cries", makes you knit your eyebrows, wondering whether you're going to listen to a reggae album or... but after a few spins it grows on you. A tricky, but decent album opener. The solid "Xaymaca" is the natural successor as it more or less carries the same vibe. Great lyrics, a thumping minimalistic riddim with now and then beautiful sax play, and a voice that literally blows you away. Then it's time for matters of heart, starting with the entertaining "Nite Life", followed by a great lovers piece called "Still A Lady" ("Box Guitar" riddim), the matching "Not Talking", and the superb "First Time".
Definitely one of the highlights is "Caged", which is delivered over the awesome "Sufferah" riddim. And also "Selfish Love" is worth hearing. Then it's time for the acoustic "Rebel", a wonderful tune to listen to. Diana Rutherford shows that she's also at ease when she has to come up with a pure dancehall effort. A nice cut, but nothing special. This certainly doesn't go for "Beware" as this is a solid piece underpinned by a real nice reggae riddim. The combination with Sizzla, the conscious "A New Day", is another winner. Both, "Rescue Me" and "Lost In Extasy", are songs with an urban feel, and especially the former turns out to be a tune that deserves a good listen. "Rely On Me", done in combination with Assaillant, has a rougher edge and a great riddim with ear-catching organ parts and percussion work. The album is rounded off in great style with the gospel-infused "The Treasure".
All in all Diana Rutherford's "Ghetto Princess" is a genuine album with a high production standard.
Teacher and Mr T (Reggae-vibes)
released September 20, 2011
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