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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Album review: Gyptian's 'Hold You' [A Washington Post Report]



Jamaican reggae singer Gyptian is the owner of the summer's most compelling dance hall hit, "Hold You (Hold Yuh)," a featherweight ballad so smooth it makes Usher's slickest slow jam sound like a Mel Gibson phone call.

Gyptian has kicked around for a while, even had minor hits, but it wasn't until "Hold You (Hold Yuh)," the ear worm of a track so nice they named it twice, that anybody noticed. "Hold You" has everything -- an insistent melody, a gentle beat and an ability to be both bland enough and supple enough to lend itself to the necessary remixes (Major Lazer and Nicki Minaj have done good ones).

Oh, and there's an album accompanying "Hold You." It's called "Hold You," and it's pretty incidental, existing only because it must. It's equal parts filler ("Rendezvous," "All in You") and really good filler (the rollicking "Nah Let Go," the sleepy closer, "Selah"), everything whipped up from familiar ingredients: pianos, Auto-Tune (Gyptian really loves Auto-Tune) and synthetic-sounding strings, with the singer's guileless voice usually dead center in the mix.

"Hold You" envisions him as an uncomplicated and thoroughly unironic Luvah Man; even its song titles read like a series of PG-13 text messages ("L.U.=V.E.," "Call Gyptian"). Gyptian fluctuates between silky and unctuous, a more believable and only slightly less effective Ne-Yo, if Ne-Yo lived on an island, and had ample access to Auto-Tune.

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