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Friday, Feb. 24, 2006


Likkle Mai "Roots Candy"

As a member of Dry & Heavy, one of Japan's best-known dub-reggae outfits, Likkle Mai shared stages with the likes of Lee "Scratch" Perry and Horace Andy and wowed crowds at festivals such as Britain's WOMAD festival and Fuji Rock. "Roots Candy" -- the Japanese singer's first solo outing -- sees Mai creating her own unique take on the reggae genre.

Written and produced by Mai, the album has an organic, laid-back feel to it. From the didgeridoo and electric sitar of lead-off track "My Old Flame," it's evident this isn't traditional reggae. Each cut is different, exploring a variety of world and electronic sounds. Highlights include "Gypsy Woman," which features Mai's ethereal vocals over Spanish-style guitar, and "I'll Be There" with striking, minimalist instrumentation provided by Rainstick Orchestra.

Some may be surprised by a heavy pop influence. "Kuchihatenu Hikaria" is a sunny, radio-friendly number, while the combination of ska-lite rhythms and Gwen Stefani-esque delivery on "Why Are You in a Hurry?" wouldn't sound out of place on a No Doubt album.

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