What makes John Brown's Body great is not just that it harks back to the '70s, when the Wailers, Abyssinians, and Israel Vibration ruled the charts, but that it does so without ever sounding derivative of those bands. The reason lies in the talent of singer-songwriter Ken Kinsella. "Land Far Away," from their 2000 release This Day, and '99's "Among Them" carry spiritual/biblical themes common in roots reggae music. But tracks such as "Can You Let Her Go" reflect an air of freshness and a lighthearted playfulness seldom experienced in the dancehall these days. Last year's release, Spirits All Around Us, the group's third for Shanachi Records, reveals a band maturing together -- a phenomenon nearly extinct in reggae music today.
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