The 10th album of Morgan Heritage – also known as the Royal Family of Reggae – has been released independent of VP Records, on the new family owned record label CTBC Music Group. Despite the album title, the quintet (Peetah, Gramps, Una, Mr. Mojo and Lukes) actually mixes various genres into their 13-track album. Like all Morgan Heritage albums, Strictly Roots is characterized by excellent instrumentation and vocals.
Featuring artists Chronixx, Jemere Morgan, J Boog, J Mersa Marley and Shaggy make a fair contribution to the diversified album. Songs like Strictly Roots, Rise and Fall and Wanna Be Loved are typical Morgan Heritage standards, elaborating on their signature style of playing roots reggae, a genre that’s – to their disappointment – drowned out by dancehall. One of the songs that turned out very well is Child of JAH, a collaboration with Chronixx. It has a very smooth off-beat vocal flow that’s lifting up the song right after the intro.
The rest of the album follows three paths. Light It Up picks up a deep electronic beat and moves into the direction of hip-hop and dancehall, a bit like Damian Marley would do. Then there is the mellow and R&B tinted single material such as Perform and Done and Why Dem Come Around, songs appreciated by the public. Finally, perhaps in an attempt to attract a wider audience, the album is completed by no less than 4 cheesy pop songs: So Amazing, Put It On Me, Sunday Morning and Celebrate Life. I’m wondering how many people argue this to be an enrichment of the record.