March 13, 2003

Test Spin: Wayne Wonder

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Three times isn’t everyone’s charm. For some, it’s five, and with No Holding Back, Jamaican dancehall veteran Wayne Wonder says that’s okay.

In his efforts to carve out a sonic niche for himself, Wonder (no relation to Stevie) has experimented heavily with R&B and hip hop. With his latest, Wonder’s time in the lab has finally paid off. His fusion of reggae, dancehall, R&B, and hip hop, though not innovative, still seems almost new in Wonder’s hands.

Packed with 16 solid cuts, No Holding Back showcases Wonder’s exceptional vocal and storytelling abilities. He savvily croons his way through a rollercoaster of emotions ranging from loss on “Just Another Day,” to bliss on “Bounce Along,” and love on “Perfect Proposal.”

The breakout single, “No Letting Go,” is a masterwork of infectious, sharp handclaps and pulsating dancehall beats that ground Wonder’s nasal, synthesized delivery.

If you’re thinking that Wonder is dancehall’s answer to Usher, then you’re wrong. Wonder’s got a rough edge and his collaborations with Elephant Man, Remo Delgado, and Shokui Ru show that he can do more than have a good time.

The consistency and creativity of No Holding Back will no doubt delight fans, draw new ones, and give artists like Shaggy something to worry about.

Archived article by Justin Finch