Short of forcing it through strange fusions and unnecessary filters, there isn’t a lot that you can do with reggae, it has pretty much found its perfect, final form. All you can hope to do is work within its established traditions and just seek to do it better, slicker, and more infectiously, to turn our increasingly high-quality songs and ever more effective performances. And that is exactly what Don Pelo does on this latest ep Exit.
Right from the opening salvo, I Love Summer, you know exactly what you are going to get, classic cuts of reggae that both celebrates what has gone before and equally, where the genre is today. You can, from that, extrapolate where it goes next, perhaps.
What Are Friends For? Is both slick and deftly done as well as buoyant and bombastic, I Can’t Breathe is cool and reserved, whilst dealing with some very sensitive and timely subject matter and Bloodclot is simultaneously graceful and groovesome.
The EP ends with We’re Hungry, again doing what reggae has always done so well, acting as a vehicle for social awareness and spreading a message of unity and support.
But would we expect anything less, Don Pelo has seen the world from all sides. From the shanty towns of Haiti to the halls of academia to deployment in Iraq with the United States Army. Anyone who has walked in those shoes and seen what he has seen can’t help but want better for the people around him. And if reggae is a great vehicle to talk about improving the lot of those who may have fallen behind or find themselves in situations, not of their own making, then it is his skill as a songwriter and performer that really drives the message home.