[Tads, 2011]

If the title of this album is Warrior King’s way of asking for an honest assessment of how he sounds at this juncture in his career, I’m happy to respond. And while his vocals are strong and supple, I have to say that it takes some time for him to sound much like a warrior or a king.

The first five tracks on “Tell Me How Me Sound” are well crafted but unexceptional love songs, with “Girl” standing out as truly insipid and “Empress” rendered laughable as soon as Warrior King sings in praise of his lover’s hygiene. Things do get better after that, for a while anyway. “Jah is the Only One” and the title track come to the rescue in fine style, and there are other good cuts like “Oh Yeah,” “What a Gwaan” and “System is Crazy” waiting down the line.

Just be prepared for such lesser material as “Mom and Dad” (which has its heart in the right place despite lyrical awkwardness) and songs that could have and should have been better. I mean, if you’re going to do a tune about how holy and medicinal and generally great you believe ganja to be, don’t include a bunch of coughing sounds that pretty much destroy any chance of coming across as sincere or credible. Also questionable is the inclusion of songs entitled “Empress” and “Sweet Empress” on the same album, given that neither song has much going for it. “Tell Me How Me Sound” is 75 minutes and 19 tracks long and thus bound to have some filler. But as to how much filler there is, that all depends on one’s personal tastes. As it happens, my own tastes are inclined toward more fire and less syrup. Alas, there are further formulaic love songs toward the end, and while the album concludes on a strong note with “Where Color is an Issue,” a great deal of what comes before doesn’t justify sticking around that long. You sound quite nice at times, Mr. King. Increase the substance factor by a few notches on your next release, and I bet you’ll sound great.