By Pendarvis Harshaw
I was initially attracted to Reggae Gold 2009 when I saw the headlining names: Elephant Man, Jazmine Sullivan, and Mavado.

Sure enough, the pop attractions on the album provided solid contributions, especially from Sean Paul and Estelle who came together for a smooth hit called, “Come Over.” Elephant Man’s contributions added an extra boost but ultimately were a little over the top for me, as he had not one but two tracks out of the 18 selected. But even with that small setback, Reggae Gold 2009 wins in my book. The way it interweaves a couple of recognized artists in the music industry with newer, less familiar names that are just as talented, if not more, but somehow still under the radar…until now.

Etana and Alborosie’s, “Blessings” was a highlight of the album. I enjoyed the lead singer’s voice, which had a quality reminiscent of Monica’s in the early nineties. It was really a breath of fresh air, mostly because the track doesn’t neatly conform to the usual reggae sound; its more like Reggae & Blues. And to have this track followed by Tarrus Riley’s silky-smooth track titled, “Start a New,” was for me, a proper introduction into the world of Reggae and Blues.

I could have done without the up tempo Elephant man tracks, and even the Mavado smash has been overplayed in the clubs all summer, but the captivating voices of Tarrus Riley and the combination of Etana and Alborosie had me asking, “What do these people look like?”

Instead of leaving me hanging, this well-rounded collection offered a bonus DVD which featured a video of both of them. Good deal. All in all, Reggae Gold 2009, just might have enough jams to keep your summer irie.