What a rare and wonderful thing – a contemporary and completely delightful calypso album.
Kobo Town hails from Port of Spain in Trinidad, home of the great calypsonians Lord Kitchener and Mighty Sparrow and he has learned the art and the heart of the form. He is a fine storyteller but with the introduction of modern styles such as Dub and roots reggae he has taken the calypso to a new place and created a wonderfully listenable album.
The Jumbie in the title is a Trinidadian spirit – a cross between the boogie man and harlequin – and Town has the same spirit of mischief in much of his music here. Tracks like ‘Postcard Poverty’ and ‘Half Of The Houses’ talk to the current problems with Trinidad – tourists with no soul and escaping Islanders who see their fortune in USA & Canada – while ‘Mr Monday’ and ‘Joe The Paranoiac’ describe real people who live in his songs and take on a real character that you can imagine clearly through the power and cleverness of Town’s words.
‘The Trial of Henry Marshall’ is a fictional trial but horribly close to reality in the tale of a man who is sentenced, innocent, to the gallows in modern Trinidad. ‘Tick Tock Goes The Clock’ is eerie and dark while ‘The War Between Is And Ought’ has a dark side to it and brilliant trombone playin behind the vocals. ‘Road To Fyzabad’ is a story of the town of Fyzabad where the workers revolted against British colonial power in the 1930’s and is here as a memorial to the failed uprising that, at one point, threatened to take over the whole Island. All through the album you get the twin joys of Kobo Town’s vocals and lyrics set against some superb musicianship and playing.
An album that makes you want to go back and listen to more of this wonderful form but that is listenable to time and again – something special.