Friends and fans in his tropical homeland know Jamaican-born Keely B as the “Jamaican Usher.” Though the nickname does sell Keely a bit short, it nevertheless sums up his vibe. On his debut, Zoned Out, Keely B represents the new sounds of dancehall reggae, a pleasant blend of traditional island vibes, R&B, hip-hop and old-school soul. The album isn’t particularly ground-breaking, but it comprises quality, hook-driven songs and upbeat, danceable productions. Zoned Out is a dancehall album for mainstream consumption.
Like any dancehall-based album, most of Zoned Out is aimed at the dance floor. The first seven tracks are all dance tracks, creating a fun and carefree vibe. Keely B’s voice isn’t the strongest — it’s often layered and manipulated by multiple effects — but the presentation of the songs makes up for it. The strongest of the up-tempo tracks, “Get Away,” is the perfect combination of catchy lyrics, exciting vocals and a clever beat. Many of the tracks take this same road, to varying degrees of success. The slower tracks work as well, most noticeably “I Know a Place,” which sounds reminiscent of a recent T-Pain single. The spare production swirls around a pounding kick drum and a delicate piano, with Keely’s vocals warped by a vocoder. Much of the album may be easy-to-listen-to fluff, and it may be a mainstream take on dancehall’s decidedly underground sound, but the beats are hard enough to satisfy diehards.
Negril West Records Web site