If you want authentic reggae with a Christian heart, you can’t go far wrong with this.

Label: Lion of Zion Entertainment
Time:  14 Tracks

We don’t seem to see much of Christafari these days, but they still get over a million views on YouTube every month and their previous six albums have débuted at no. 1 on the Billboard Reggae Chart.

So the band must be doing something right and it’s no surprise to hear in Original Love a polished, professional, pleasing piece of reggae with obvious mass appeal.

While a couple of tracks in the middle verge on fillers and there are questionable details (the backing vocals on “Wounded for our Transgressions” feel a bit saccharine and the two-minute testimony near the end will not bear repeated hearings) there are many riches here.

Not least, the scriptural foundations are deep. The title track takes us from Genesis to John‘s letters via Christ and incorporates a missional focus and admonitions to live a life that reflects God’s love – yes, all this in one cracking song.

At over an hour, there is value across the album too.

The quality is too consistently high for many standout tracks, but several (such as “Your House” and "Wherever Your Treasure Is") are highly tuneful; while the excellent opener sets the bar for authentic reggae. They also throw in a couple of crowd-pleasing recognisable songs, such as Chris Tomlin’s “Good Good Father.”

(Some would ask whether “Is It You?” borrows a little more than it should from The Newsboys’ eponymous song).

Generally, this mid-tempo, praise-focused (but outward-looking) collection holds together well. The brass section punctuates the disc with drive, and goes a bit old-time on “Make Me Say Ooh,” while there is a host of interesting background synthy sounds low in the mix and some discreet - but worthwhile – chiming tuned percussion very high up on “Your Beauty Chases Me.” We get some dub, and a couple of decent guitar solos also make surprise appearances.

It’s rare for mission-minded Christian music to have a skill set as big as its heart, but this one succeeds with ease.

Derek Walker