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Spirits All Around Us

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Album Review

A pleasant chill record of roots reggae, John Brown's Body's Spirits All Around Us presents 14 densely layered tracks from the Ithaca, NY-based ensemble. Frontman Kevin Kinsella has a knack for crafting poppy vocal hooks that he skillfully embeds within the dubby grooves (such as on "33 RPM"). The real genius of the album, though, is in the syncopated wall of sound the band creates. Synths, percussion, horns, vocals, and guitars layer together to create a rich blend. One minor complaint is that, perhaps, there is not enough low end on the disc. The band shows its experimental side on cuts like the instrumental "Instrument" (perhaps the highlight of the disc) and the almost industrial-sounding "Ambrosia." On the former, the band's thick dub percolates over a hearty seven minutes, making one wish that the band would someday devote an entire disc to this sort of exploration.


Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Named in honor of the legendary abolitionist, reggae unit John Brown's Body was led by singer/guitarist Kevin Kinsella, a longtime fan of Caribbean music who formed the group Tribulations while attending college in Boston in 1989. Three years later they took top honors in the annual Yamaha Soundcheck contest, touring Japan as a result; in 1993 Tribulations also recorded in Jamaica, releasing the LPs The Gate and Daddy Good Pieces before disbanding. Striving for a more organic roots reggae sound,...
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Spirits All Around Us, John Brown's Body
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