Groundation: Here I Am

By: Dennis Cook

With elements of Cuban son, and 70s soul-jazz melded to a strong roots reggae, Groundation are traditionalists unbound by pure tradition. There's little doubt anyone who strongly vibes with Bob Marley & The Wailers and Steel Pulse won't dig Here I Am (Young Tree Records) a great deal, but there's a sumptuous reach riding inside their largely easy skankin'. Vocally, Groundation are miles ahead of most of their competition, with guitarist-singer Harrison Stafford melding sweetly with songbirds Stephanie Wallace and Kim Pommell. There's an island lilt underpinned by gritty, determined playing by the whole ensemble, and the tunes roll off easy but linger in a way that lures one back. If Groundation is less, well, ground breaking than contemporaries Soothsayers and The Black Seeds they make up for it with plain old warmly delivered roots music that's easy to enjoy even as it explores serious things, i.e. fairly pure reggae music full of conviction and solid entertainment value.

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[Published on: 11/5/09]

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