In the review to Tarrus Riley's marvelous Mecoustic (here), I mentioned I'm not all that big a fan of reggae, but when it comes in forms like Riley's and in this CD, Hommage by Yannnck Noah—well, I do a swift 'volte face' because there's such a wealth of charm and easy beauty incorporated into the base form that one can hardly resist no matter one's genre inclinations otherwise. What really started me into the mode a while back, though, was a fusion disc, Mykaell S. Riley's The Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra, and I've always been a bit thankful for that cool little slab. Hommage, though, as it turns out and as the title implies, is Noah's tribute to regaae's towering figure: Bob Marley.
Granted, my affinity for the disc derives in sweetening added to what might otherwise be a formal rendition of the originals, but that same expansion likewise broadens the parameters of the form, pulling out and emphasizing factors hidden in the more undecorated first versions. Works for me, I gotta say, and such things pull one closer to appreciating the classics themselves. Regardless, there's a sweetness and light flowing all through Hommage and Noah, a very big figure in France, possesses a wine-smooth voice carrying a reassuringly genuine Humanism.
The backing choruses in the cuts are earthily angelic, and the instrumentation throughout is uncluttered but soulful and happy, bedding these classics (Jammin', I Shot the Sheriff, Redemption Song, etc.) in satin on a bright sunny day with warm breezes. Noah was, you may already know, a world tennis champion and was entered into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005 for his extraordinary history, but the guy is just as integrated an artist and musician, apparently able to do whatever his spirit lights on. This CD should keep his name firmly alive, and I suspect it will help usher in a wider appreciation of Marley's legacy. I'm already one of those now much more interested in Bob's famous talents thanks to Hommage.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles