Ho­race Andy, Dance Hall Style

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - NEWS -

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.

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