Corey Harris,
Zion Crossroads
(Telarc, 2007)

For Zion Crossroads, blues and reggae musician Corey Harris's first release for Telarc, Harris has assembled a band that won't quit, a rhythm section so tight it bonds like glue and a horn section that drives as strong and powerful as leather. He uses these musicians to put his own brand on reggae.

Although primarily known as a blues artist, Harris is in fact expert in almost all aspects of African-American music. College educated and the possessor of an honorary doctorate for his work in music scholarship, Harris has steadfastly refused to be tied down to one mode of expression. "I'm trying to represent what my tradition is," he says, "and then represent my individual self in the contemporary moment."

Zion Crossroads succeeds admirably. Structurally, it's a reggae album, with rhythms as sharp and precise as a Shakespeare soliloquy and vocals as smooth and warm as hot-buttered rum. Thematically, it's a shout of triumph, declaring that although the world is lost in sin, good is going to inevitably triumph.

Harris's message is apocalyptic at times but always hopeful. His album is wonderful.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

5 January 2008

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