Omar Perry - Can’t Stop Us
TitleCan’t Stop Us
Release dateSept 2009
Being the son of reggae royalty means being in the company of several Marleys, Andrew Tosh, Tarrus Riley, Akila Barrett and others. And even if the offspring isn’t looking to fill anyone’s shoes, there are expectations that the surname brings. Given that fact in addition to the fact that Omar Perry is the son of Lee Perry, reggae’s resident mad genius producer/performer, there may be even more perceived baggage attached. Sure, Ziggy Marley, to site the most prominent example, has been accused of being a mere imitation of his iconic father. So if someone had never heard the music of Omar Perry (which I admit I hadn’t before this CD came my way), would or should they expect the younger to have taken the majority of his cues from the sometimes-bewildering style of the elder?
No, they shouldn’t. Omar Perry (who was a kid when he began vocalizing on a few tracks produced by his father) clearly isn’t interested in being a clone of Lee Perry the singer. Omar has a considerably stronger voice, doesn’t employ stream-of-consciousness rants or self-promoting lyrics and, as the front cover photo shows, sports a far less eccentric look than the old man. And the production values on the CD are straightforwardly modern, not vintage Black Ark or some contemporary approximation thereof. So let’s talk about the music itself. The disc starts strongly with “We Wah,” a militant, clavinet-accented shot of niceness that Perry voices like a more restrained (and more roots) version of Buju Banton or Sizzla. He shows further vocal prowess on the tongue-tripping title song and even a lighter offering like “Need You” soars thanks to an assertive riddim and Perry’s assured chant singing. It’s only when things are too rap-ish or rockish (“Right Right Left,” “Boom Town”) or pop generic (“Bring Me Joy,” “Do You Love Me”) that the album suffers, though relief arrives in the form of the nyabinghi “911 (Memorial),” “Save the Earth” (which cops a Super Ape-era Lee Perry riddim) and the upful closing trio of “I’m Rebel,” “The Ghostmakers” and “Spiritually.” So if you want to break it down by the numbers, there’s 16 tracks and a dozen of them are plenty good enough to recommend Can’t Stop Us. Omar Perry packs the vocal strength and songs necessary to not even have to worry about being in his father’s shadow. He’s got his own good thing going.
Reviewed by Tom Orr