Horace Andy, Dance Hall Style
Of all the distinctive Jamaican voices that have captured our hearts perhaps, Horace Andy’s sweet falsetto has the tightest connection of all on us. His vibrato-laced tones are instantly recognisable and universally loved.
From his first releases for the Studio One label in the late 1960s to his collaborations with Massive Attack over the past two decades, his delicate yet commanding vocal style has lent an ethereal presence to every record it has graced. His voice is sufficiently intertwined with the sound of reggae to be almost symbiotic.
He was born into a musical family in Kingston in 1951. As a child, he witnessed his cousin Justin Hinds climb to the top of the Jamaican charts with Duke Reid’s Treasure Island records. The eerie similarity between their voices would suggest their talent ran deep in the blood.
Horace considered himself a musician first and singer second. His feeling for sound took him on a wayward search for the right producer over the first phase of his career. His relocation to the US in the late 1970s brought him in touch with Lloyd Barnes, founder of the Wackies label, record shop and studio.
In Barnes, he found an innovative collaborator. Here he serves up a sonic feast of six extended jams. His moody soundscapes are the perfect setting for Andy to shine with grace and aplomb. Heartfelt and haunting vocals breathe life into every corner of the record, but they are only part of the deal. With his deft bass and lead guitar lines he weaves infectious rhythmic threads into a rich tapestry of shimmering sound. A slightly wintry chill invades the sunshine grooves. Cooling waves of static waft around the dubby foundations, making for a heady mix that seems to borrow much from the Bronx streets where it was conceived.
The feeling of displacement only heightens the atmosphere. There’s something happening here. It’s the sound of one of the truest and most original rockers in a magical New York state of mind.