Jah Cure ADD


Album Review: Jah Cure - Undeniable


by Steve Topple

Album Review: Jah Cure - Undeniable

Despite being incarcerated [IN THE NEWS], Jah Cure has managed to release his ninth studio album. It’s an about-turn on his previous release, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work – it’s just ‘different’, and undeniably so.

Undeniable, released via VP Records, sees Cure team up with Swedish producer Hamed ”K-One” Pirouzpanah for the production across the entire album – somewhat unusual in Reggae, now. The album has been in the works since 2019 and was created before Cure was imprisoned.

It stands in contrast to his previous release, Royal Soldier: not least using just K-One instead of multiple producers; the reduction of guest artists, but also notably because Undeniable is overall (what would historically have been called) a Lovers Rock album, and ostensibly so – with the majority of the tracks focusing on matters of the heart. Also, Undeniable focuses mainly on Reggae – whereas Royal Soldier mixed-up the genres slightly more.

There are overall musical themes, here. Ambient production features a lot – the use of dampening as a device, statement musical breaks, and the focus on the bass. Across the album, the drum style is often varied – and overall, K-One has produced something polished and classy. Lyrically, most of the tracks are about love – with the album feeling like it’s about one relationship and its twists and turns; Cure denies the album is autobiographical, though.

The slick and forward-moving title track featuring Kaylan Arnold is a rich and intricate affair, using old skool chord progressions while still sounding fresh and fulsome. The vocalists are perfectly matched – delivering forthright and expressive performances that marry well with the overall musical thrust. Then, Everything featuring Stonebwoy is Undeniable’s only other duet. It sees K-One tread a smooth Alt RnB path, with some nice use of strings, a Trap drum line and glossy bass - but featuring a smattering of Reggae influences (like the intermittent bubble rhythm). Stonebwoy is as impressive as ever – and again, it’s another duet that works well.  

Next, and Trust opens with a deceptively grandiose piano opening, before settling into something Revival Reggae: a merging here of Reggae musical sensibilities (check the bubble rhythm on the keys and drums at points on a one drop) but with imposing production that errs more towards something more Hip Hop – for example, the bass runs Funky Soul glissandos at times, and hi-hats run buzz rolls which are all very Trap.

One More Time moves Undeniable’s Reggae sound further to the side, with lilting guitars, some nice attention to detail on the string line and a good crescendo of arrangement that build to the rich chorus. Good Life is slightly more stripped back – with some nice, almost ambient breaks and their dampened strings, while the rest of the composition is straighter Lovers Rock but with some good use of triplet sequences for some added Funky Soul.

Find My Way breaks Undeniable’s Lovers Rock stranglehold (albeit still with Reggae vibes a plenty), moving the album into something more introspective. The shrill horns and quivering electric organ are the dominant additional instrumentation here. Lyrically, though, Cure seems to deal with something more than just the breakdown of a relationship – as he points to the personal demons he has been clearly battling: “I get a little bit bored, then I go missing. I can’t see this time being anything different”. There’s an unsettledness, here – and as a listener you cannot help reading more into it than just his dissatisfaction with a relationship.

The album then delivers Think About It, another break-up song but with some musically slightly different vibes. The four-to-the-floor kick, Hip Hop drum line and Gospel-style backing vocals provide solid momentum, while guitars skank, keys bubble rhythm it and horns sway – making for something quite Revival, albeit straighter and more mainstream.

The upbeat Be The One cleverly merges elements of stark and ambient AfroDancehall (signposted by that broken Dancehall clave) on the verses, coupled with a very 80s guitar skank juxtaposed with Trap buzz rolls and lilting, dampened piano - and then straighter albeit stripped-back Reggae on the choruses; the two styles then briefly merge towards the end. It’s an interesting composition and one of the more progressive ones of the album.

If I Had You is more, rich, momentum-heavy Reggae but with good attention to detail in terms of the arrangement (look out for the very synth kick and dB adjustments on the instrumentation that wax and wane throughout). Beautiful takes the ‘wind’ factor up a gear, with a return to the 90s amid swaying horns, back-and-forth bass, stark, bubble rhythm-focused breaks, and smooth bridges – all laced together with a pleasing horn line and Cure’s winding melodic line.

Undeniable concludes with Turn Off The Lights - a brief (2:18) but pleasing final track, as light-touch Reggae meets those ambient vibes again across a sparse arrangement interjected with a choral synth.

Cure is still vocally and lyrically a very talented artist. OK, so admittedly his narratives about love are hardly groundbreaking, nor conscious or spiritual – however, he has woven them together well. However, his performances show why, nine albums later, he is still regarded as one of the finest artists of the past few decades. His voice is still instantly recognisable – however, there is a noticeable rounding of his tone since Royal Soldier. Cure’s vocals sound more soulful here, with his timbre being slightly richer. That gruffness is still there, and his vocal range is as impressive as ever – dipping down then high up across his wide tenor range. His best vocal work is perhaps across Be The One, where he utilises his lower range extremely well, and One More Time, where his upper tenor is expressive, forthright and compelling.

Overall, Undeniable is an effective and well-constructed album with excellent production, strong performances from Cure and many tracks which are memorable and listenable. The challenge with the album was always going to be the fact it’s preceded by Royal Soldier, an album of such quality that many artists would struggle to follow it up. And while comparing the two is unfair (due to Undeniable being an intentional Lovers Rock release) it does feel like there’s far more left for Jah Cure to talk about than matters of the heart. Maybe we’ll see that on album number ten.

Release details

Jah Cure - Undeniable

Jah Cure - Undeniable


Release date: 02/17/2023


01. Undeniable feat. Kaylan Arnold
02. Everything feat. Stonebwoy 
03. Trust
04. One More Time
05. Good Life
06. Find My Way
07. Think About It
08. Be The One
09. If I Had You
10. Beautiful
11. Turn Off The Lights

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