Tarrus Riley: Family Roots
- Words: Tomas Palermo
Like father like son, or like mother like daughter–the adage is true in many family businesses, including Jamaica’s reggae trade. Ancestral offspring have continually renewed the practice of making reggae music for decades, with contributions from notable artistic clans such as The Marleys (Bob’s sons Ziggy, Stephen, and Damien), Denroy Morgan’s Morgan Heritage (http://www.morganheritagemusic.com/) ensemble, and Freddie McGregor’s music minded sons Stephen and Chino.
Now a new singer enters the reggae fold, and brings some quality lineage with him.
Tarrus Riley, son of famed Taxi Records vocalist Jimmy Riley (of the hit “Love & Devotion”), is latest to join the crop of Jamaican singer/songwriters redefining the sounds of contemporary roots reggae music. With analytical lyrics embracing Rasta teachings, and his heart felt romantic delivery, Riley manages to cover both the roots and lovers rock genres expertly. It helps that his debut album, Parables (VP), features saxophonist Dean Fraser alongside an all-star band that includes Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, Robbie Lyn, Paul ‘Scooby’ Smith, Glen Browne, and others.
But as the audio clips on his MySpace page deftly prove, Riley can easily hold his own and standout in today’s crowded reggae vocals market. His voice echoes his father’s aching, smooth delivery, along with a touch of Freddie McGregor’s gruff, hearty tones. “Beware” rides a nice reinvention of the Pass The Kutchie riddim, while “Marcus Live,” with Lutan Fyah, is a potential breakthrough single. One thing’s certain; Riley followed his father’s footsteps in the right direction.
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