An unlikely foray into reggae, Nellie McKay's "Caribbean Time" is more than just a gimmicky game of musical chairs.
Song: "Caribbean Time"
Artist: Nellie McKay
CD: Home Sweet Mobile Home
Defined by her unpredictability, Nellie McKay spends her latest album, Home Sweet Mobile Home, piling on the Broadway-style chutzpah, indulging in carefully orchestrated jazz charts and coffeehouse bromides over the course of 13 songs. The result is, at the very least, musically daring: "Caribbean Time," for example, is the first of McKay's two reggae forays on the album. Actually recorded in Jamaica, the track takes off with a stuttering riddim and breezy but spirited vocals, with a respectable patois cropping up at times.
Meanwhile, the words are consistent with McKay's outspoken politics and commitment to exposing the absurdities of modern life. "For the guns and the promises they feed ya will drag you in the sand," she sings, adding, "I take no direction and I walk real slow / for the words of oppression are go go go." Not merely a gimmicky game of musical chairs, the end result hangs together thanks to her willingness to try anything and exceed expectations. As her broadening palette continues its globalized reach, "Caribbean Time" proves that McKay's stylistic diversity still remains one of her strongest suits.