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Ali Campbell - Flying High

Ali Campbell, Flying High

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

FORMER UB40 frontman Ali Campbell releases his third solo album and his first since splitting from UB40, in the form of Flying High – and it’s a trademark slice of pop inflicted reggae that features some big bonus collaborators.

Prominent are Jamaica’s Lady Saw and Shaggy, Germany’s Gentleman and South Africa’s Danny K & The Soweto Gospel Choir. Not to mention a certain Craig David.

Flying High represents a collection of original material and some well-chosen covers that’s certain to appeal to the singer’s loyal fanbase. It’s upbeat as only reggae albums know how and feels like the work of a singer who has thrown off the shackles and is doing what he wants.

In truth, there’s not a great deal of musical variation and Campbell does nothing to either stretch himself vocally or diversify. But he sounds like he’s having fun and the album is fun, too, in places.

Primary among these is the funky workout of What You Gonna Do Bout It that drops a genuine calypso vibe and a sassy rap from Lady Saw, while the cover of Tom Jones’ ’70s smash She’s A Lady works well on the trade-off of styles that represents dancehall star Shaggy and soulful Campbell.

Worth checking out, too, is the hopeful, self-penned track Visions that contains one of the most charming choruses on the album courtesy of Danny K and the Soweto Gospel Choir. The mix of reggae, pop and gospel is expertly realised, even if there’s a certain naivety in the peace-loving lyrics.

Everways, his duet with Craig David, meanwhile, begins amid a brass fanfare before coming over all soulful, romantic and feel-good. For once, Craig David sounds halfway decent!

Says Campbell of the collaboration: “It was a joy working with Craig, he’s totally professional and has done a great job on the track. He is one of the UK’s best R ‘n’ B talents and a lovely guy.”

The remainder of the album is a jovial, easy listen that rarely deviates from the tried and tested formula, but which offers a nice, relaxed type of musical accompaniment for those summer BBQ and/or chillout sessions. Nice, rather than essential, it’s nevertheless still good to have Campbell around.

Download picks: Everways, She’s A Lady, What You Gonna Do Bout It, Visions

Track listing:

  1. Nothing Ever Changes featuring Gentleman
  2. Out From Under
  3. Everways featuring Craig David
  4. She’s A Lady featuring Shaggy
  5. That’s Supposed To Hurt
  6. What You Gonna Do Bout It featuring Lady Saw
  7. Visions featuring Danny K & The Soweto Gospel Choir
  8. My Heart Is Gone
  9. Don’t Shoot The Messenger
  10. It’s A Crime featuring Sway
  11. Flying High
  12. My Happiness