Smile - 2003

Big-time success was a longtime coming for the very talented Junior Kelly, who has been polishing his hard-edged roots reggae sound, and developing both his gruff singing voice and solid chatting skills since 1985. His 6th album (and third for the venerable VP label) finds him wisely leaving his winning formula largely unchanged, alternating back and forth between singing and toasting over a shifting bed of top-notch roots rhythms, many of them produced by Kelly himself at such A-list studios as Black Scorpio and Tuff Gong.

There are not really any weak tracks on Smile, though the repatriation anthem “African Bound,” the nice combination track “Take Me There” (featuring a fine female singer named Calibe), and “Baby Can We Meet” are particular standouts. And check out the subtly Latin-flavored rhythm on “Running from the Law,” and the defiant righteousness of “I Nah Bow”.” Very highly recommended.