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On March 1st, Romain Virgo will be releasing his 4th studio album, The Gentle Man.  We’ve waited quite a few years for this new album, and I'm here to tell you, it is well worth the wait. This 12 track release gives us Romain’s wonderful Lover’s Rock stylin’ but he brings us a little more with Reggae Roots,  Afrobeats and more. This album shows a leap of growth in the song writing, compositions, voice and over-all feel.  This is his most personal and complete album to date. “The Gentle Man is Romain Virgo’s most candid body of work to date. The singer questions, deconstructs, and affirms his beliefs, sharing clear-eyed perspectives across a dozen tracks. He challenges what it means to be a man in Caribbean culture, explores the highs and lows of ‘Afromantic’ relationships, and, in the process, blends classic, foundational sounds with modern sonics.” This taken from the press release, I had to include it because it is so perfectly put.  “I kept some important questions in mind while working on this album. Who am I to my fans? To those close to me? To myself? People saw me go from this inexperienced youth with a gentle way of doing things to a man with the same morals, but new understanding. With this project, I present my full, authentic self. This is who I am,” said Romain Virgo.

We start off with “Been There Before” featuring Masicka, what a perfect song to start off this journey. Musically, such a great sound and the way Virgo’s voice flows in and out with the riddim is so great. One of my favorite tracks on this and Masicka and Romain work so well together. I caught myself singing the chorus all day, it just sticks with you, “I’ve been there before, Everything a go alright, memba di darkest part a di night,  Is just before daylight.” Next up is another great song, “Switch You On” I love Virgo’s voice throughout this joint, his tone and tempo changing up to this upbeat song flowing along with the beat and rhythm.  I got to get up and dance to this. You really feel the growth and maturity of his voice in this song. “Switch you on like a stereeeooo, turn you all the way up, when you feel loooowww.”  We slide into “Good Women” with a nice bouncy jam, a nice ode to a good woman. You can’t stop moving to this, such a sweet, happy feel, just puts a smile on your face. Once again, his voice is so great and powerful in this song.  We have “I Believe” featuring Patoranking and Silly Walks Discotheque up next. A nice Afrobeat sound in this tune.  This has a wonderful, almost gospel-like hook that just hits so nicely. Patoranking works really well with this track and, this is a theme, works so well with Romain.  I love Romain moving into a different style with this, but also still holding true to his Lover’s Rock style.

We go back to what Romain is all about with “Want You Now” when he really belts it out and sounds fantastic. His voice really flashes in this song, flowing through the music with ease. It is a recurring theme, his voice playing right along with the beat, riddim, bass and guitar. The growth is so evident. “Red Dress” is next and is a more simple groove, but Virgo hits so well. It’s a song that all men can relate to, thinking back to seeing our love one in that dress or outfit that, after all these years, we still think about. Wear that Red Dress again. “Driver” gives us another one of my favorites, with a really nice drum line and sweeping chorus, produced by Don Corleon. This is another one of those songs that just sticks with you, “Baby I can be your Driver, Drive you anywhere you want to, I can be your soldier, yes Imma fight for you, fight fi your love like….oh oh oh oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh oh oh.” We come to “No Curfew” another Roots Reggae Lovers Rock tune showcasing his versatile voice. The highs, the lows, the tone, the tempo, just so so sweet and perfect.

“Take It Or Leave It” is his most intriguing and versatile song on the album. This is a Reggae, Hip Hop, R&B and Trap groove, mixing these different styles throughout. Virgo even giving us a nice flow of a mix of rapping and singing.  A great change for this album and really shows the excellence of Romain’s voice and flow; it is not forced, it comes with ease. We get another Lover’s Rock groove with “10 Just Like That.” That guitar hitting throughout, a nice chill song, the flow from Romain is so nice, it just flies right through this joint. Next up is another one of my favorites, “Bridges” featuring Jesse Royal. Just a real nice rhythm to this, the music just seems to take you away. I love Virgo in this and when Jesse comes in, it just takes this to another level. I really hope we see a lot more collaborations between these two.  Their voices and styles compliment each other so well.  I have seen Jesse Royal many times live, I close my eyes and picture seeing Romain and Jesse on stage doing this live. Love It! The album is finished off with “You Must Pay” featuring Capleton, and what a wonderful way to close this out. While I love how Romain and Jesse Royal compliment each other, this is on a whole different level. Capleton with his ruff and growl voice is a perfect mix with the soulful sound that Romain brings.  On the surface it would seems these two shouldn’t work, but it is almost a perfect combination. Yet again, another one of my favorites on this fantastic journey.

Bottom line, Romain Virgo's latest, The Gentle Man, is one incredible album.  There is truly so much to like in this release. I tend to judge an album on how many songs I start to skip over, I am very particular and even with artists/bands I love there are usually one or two songs I don’t get into and skip over. This is one of those albums that you wat to listen to each and every song, every time it comes on. I noticed in a few songs, he has a sound of another singer, a slightly different sound, and this is not a bad thing. It goes to show the control he has over his voice. I love the growth in Romain on this album, coming out of his comfort zone and trying some different styles and ideas, while not major changes, just enough to make each song work so well. The growth and maturity of his voice has really hit me, while he has always had a beautiful voice and has been one of the best voices in Reggae music for years, there is something different this time around. This is a must listen, you will want to add it to your play list. I have to be honest, while I have always loved his voice, I really haven’t had Romain on a regular listen. That will change now, he will be added to my playlist for sure. I feel privileged to get an early listen, I’ll be listening to this all week before it is released, and well after.


One Love – Todd Judd


Todd Judd

Photojournalist - Pennsylvania

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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