[Stashang/E2 Recordings, 2009]

I don’t know where this guy is from or how his self-titled CD reached me (apparently a couple of years after its release). But whoever Shango Trex is, he can sing, and apart from a few tiresome girl-you’re-so-sexy sentiments, he’s singing about things that matter.

He pleads for help for the younger set on “Fi Di Youts Dem,” gets smoky on “High Grade,” spells out what we all must do to bask in “Our Glory,” reads the “Writing On The Wall” and advises people everywhere to “Rise And Unite.” The backing, aside from some real guitars, horns and percussion, is mostly digital and the riddims mostly straight-up reggae with some dancehall and R&B in spots. The disc seems pretty undistinguished at the first listen, but on the second go around, some finer points like strong background vocals and nyahbinghi subtleties, begin to emerge.

I took a closer look at the credits and saw the familiar names of Jerry Johnson on sax and Glen Brown on kette drums, plus the fact that the disc was mastered (and presumably recorded) in New York City, which has certainly been one of Jamaican music’s second homes. Some truly outstanding songs aside, this isn’t really killer or crucial reggae. But if not great, it’s certainly good. Shango Trex has a clear, assured voice, and with any luck at all, his next album will truly be the one that heralds his arrival onto the scene.