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Album Review

Tarrus Riley's contemporized roots reggae comes with a pedigree: his father is the Jamaican singer Jimmy Riley, best known for his early-'80s album Love and Devotion and its classy cover of Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing." The younger Riley stays close to the themes of Rasta, righteousness and romanticism on this likable set, but he's young and worldly enough to go beyond the clichés, both musical and lyrical. The songwriting on Parables is tightly constructed, melodic, smart and accessible, and while the themes are familiar, Riley is willing to inject some pop gloss into his music, avoiding the sanctimoniousness that often drives away non-devotees of hardcore reggae. He doesn't overdo it with the Rasta rhetoric, and although there are more than a few direct references to Bob Marley lyrics in Riley's own, he never gives the impression that he's following in anyone's footsteps. Like most Rasta artists, Riley does rail against Babylon, but then in "Micro Chip," he cautions just as vehemently against worshipping technology, particularly the computer (wonder if he considers the machines in the recording studio technology?). But some of the most satisfying material on Parables has nothing to do with theology or injustice but rather with the heart: Riley's cover of "Stay with You," made famous by John Legend, and Riley's own "Something Strong" are unabashed paeans to romantic love (although the latter may be the first love song to include the word "parasites"), and the title track brilliantly draws lines between classic morality tales of yore and life in the 21st century. Riley's voice is a strong and likable one, equally comfortable within the spiritual and the secular, and he knows where to go for help, too: the ubiquitous Sly & Robbie are among the ace musicians contributing to the album, hitmaker Dean Fraser produces, and the legendary Tuff Gong Studios is one of the venues at which Riley laid down tracks. A voice to carry reggae ahead, for sure.

Customer Reviews


very good album, that speaks about truth and love . respect


When i first heard this mans unique voice and consious lyrics on the radio, i was happy to learn that he has an album. All the record stores i visited in Kingston didnt have his album.......sold out! I resorted to VP's website where i downloaded the album via itunes to my ipod. My favourite is #5. Thanks Tarrus, i am enjoying your message and music immensely. S. Gillings

Don't Sleep on Tarrus

This man currently has the number one song in JA (She's Royal). He manages to perfectly blend his soulful voice w/ Sly & Robbie riddims. This album has some of the best songs of 2006 and a strong contender for 2007. If you don't purchase the whole album, purchase; LION PAW, BEWARE, STAY W/ YOU, ROYAL. He has a tune on the midnight riddim (Protect yuh Neck). When that one gets released, it will definitely give him more recognition.


Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '00s, '10s

One of the most promising of the second generation of Jamaica roots reggae singers, Tarrus Riley is the son of Jimmy Riley, who has had a long career as a solo artist as well as being a former member of the Uniques and the Techniques. Like his father, Riley has a sweet, nuanced tenor vocal style, although his first connection with the Jamaican music scene was as a DJ (under the name Taurus). Riley taught himself to play keyboards and several percussion instruments and began writing his own songs,...
Full Bio
Parables, Tarrus Riley
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Customer Ratings