Legendary Jamaican pop star Shaggy has enjoyed something of a critical renaissance of late, what with his Grammy award Sting collaboration, ‘44/876’, last year. Looking to build on that record’s success with his latest solo album ‘Wah Gwaan?!’ Shaggy goes on an all-out pop assault to recapture past glories and establish some new hits to add to his collection.
In case you’re not sure who you’re listening to, the album is immediately introduced by a booming cry of “Shaggy!” – a trick he repeats numerous times throughout the album. There’s certainly no shortage of confidence here, and Shaggy sounds at least engaged and not out of step with current pop trends on this high-energy, relentlessly upbeat collection.
You can’t envisage anything on this record reaching the cultural ubiquity of his biggest hit ‘It Wasn’t Me’ but you can easily imagine numerous songs here possibly becoming hits. Tracks like ‘Money Up’ and the rousing ‘Caribbean Way’ hit hard, with surprising fire for a 50-year-old veteran, while the lilting ballad ‘When She Loves’ me is a decent re-tread of his previous Number 1 hit, ‘Angel’.
In amidst the few undeniable bangers, however, there are plenty run-of-the-mill “pop reggae by numbers” tracks. Shaggy shows he can still bring it, but no one really needs 14 tracks of pure Shaggy in 2019. Still, at least Sting doesn’t turn up here so top marks for that.
Words: Martyn Young
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