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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

Kobo Town

By Matt Scheiner
Published June 11, 2007

Independence

The members of Kobo Town are a complete cross-section of the Caribbean islands where their musical influences stem from—composed of Trinidadians, a Cuban and a Jamaican (as well as a few Canadians), the group fluidly meshes their West Indian roots to form a new reggae/calypso carnival party. Bandleader and lead vocalist Drew Gonsalves has a perfect reggae voice (more authentic and passionate than either Mishka or Matisyahu), and the group’s lyrics tackle Trinidad’s turbulent past and present—a subject he’s experienced firsthand. Taking cues from Jamaican mento, reggae, and calypso (which was born in Kobo Town, Trinidad), Independence is packed with traditional instrumentation and a joyous vibe. “Sing Out, Shout Out,” “Corbeaux Following” and “Blood And Fire” are the key tracks, mixing inventive horns, congas, cuatro and contrabass, led by Gonsalves’ energetic and smooth patois.