Wayne Wonder - No Holding Back

Dance hall reggae singer Wayne Wonder have moved around the States and spent a time living in Jamaica over his 30 years, but few vocalists can match the fact that Wonder's first recordings were with the legendary King Tubby. Bizarrely the single which caught the public's imagination was his cover of Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up". Other covers in his career include Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car", PM Dawn's "Die Without You" and En Vogue's "Hold On" but since 1993 Wayne has never recorded another cover. More recently he has co-written hits with the controversial artist Buju Banton who is notorious for being verbally berated by Mark Lamaar on the Word following a homophobic tirade.

On hearing the track "Bounce Along" I imagined Rufus and Chaka Khan contacting their lawyer as it borrows heavily from their song "Ain't Nobody". That aside the song is modern and slickly produced with honest lyrics. Wayne's voice has soul and is drenched in emotion throughout the whole of "No Holding Back". The summer smash "Crazy Feeling" features the services of distinctive rapper Elephant Man, however shame on you Wayne for the cliched lyrics "let me light your fire". This has an unbelievably catchy chorus and is impossible not to dance to. What lifts "Just Another Day" from the doldrums are the harmonies of Sadeki and Wayne Wonder. Wayne's rather wonderful vocal has him singing the blues superbly on this mellow and introspective song. It has the feeling of a man who has truly loved and lost. "Slowly And Surely" reminds me a lot of Aswad and the commercial sound works well for the songs overall production. "Metal And Steel" which features Demo Delago and Showki Ru has a really thumpin' funky bass line. The lyric is about making money and despite an unusual arrangement the rap is unforgettable.

"No Holding Back" is an impressive collection of songs with a dazzling array of versatility. With Sean Paul currently flying the flag for contemporary reggae it'll be no doubt the turn of Wayne Wonder to break through into the mainstream.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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