Sound — 10
Jimmy Cliff is without a doubt the most recognizable figure in reggae music alive today, so, when I saw his latest offering, "Rebirth" on Rolling Stone magazine's list of best albums of 2012, the only thing I could think was "really?". After all, Rolling Stone's best albums of the year usually consist of pop, a few mainstream established rock acts and possibly 4 or 5 things that aren't that. I decided to check it out, and I was pleasantly surprised. This album easily earned the praise it got. It's solid, a consistently enjoyable, if interestingly old-fashioned sounding piece of music. And there's a Rancid cover. Yes, Jimmy Cliff does a version of "Ruby Soho." He also covers The Clash on this album, but other than that, it's all original songs.
Lyrics — 9
I don't often listen to reggae, but from what I have heard of the genre in general, I will assume this album has fairly standard lyrical themes. These themes would be: reggae music itself, the state of the world, love and survival. So, nothing much a diversion from the normal, as far as I can tell (feel free to correct me in the comments below, if by chance I'm wrong). Jimmy Cliff has a good voice. It packs a lot of feeling, soul, without sounding like it strains him much to sing, even at his age. He also has a really solid group of background singers, when you hear them sprinkled throughout the album, it just works.
Overall Impression — 10
Well, like I said earlier, I don't listen to reggae music often, but I know who Jimmy Cliff is and I have enjoyed everything I've heard from him so far in my life and "Rebirth" is no exception. It's always nice to hear a legend put out an album worthy of his time. There's not anything I would say I hate about this album. There's not really anything that could be deemed "filler" or a similar term. Though there are a few standout tracks (the previously mentioned cover of "Ruby Soho" comes to mind), even the weakest tracks on the album aren't of much lower quality than the highlights. One thing I will say surprises me though, is that UG has no Jimmy Cliff CD reviews!