Lady Saw’s Walk Out
Posted by Dresonic on April 21, 2007
Stereotypes are the proverbial two-edged sword. Once the performer establishes themselves within a particular type, success can come easy, but transcendence is much harder.
Marion ‘Lady Saw’ Hall burst onto the dancehall scene in the 1990s taking the aggressive, even predatory sexuality her male counterparts had enshrined and flipping it on them, with no-nonsense raunch like Stab Up Di Meat, Good Wuk and Hice(hoist) It Up.
Her exploits sparked controversy (often the best friend of the artiste in need of promotion) and brought her to the attention of overseas pop and hip hop acts.
The wider exposure and personal trials have led Hall to try and temper her in-your-face persona (an entity she has repeatedly said is reserved solely for the stage and on records) and Walk Out represents a kind of tic in her ongoing evolution.
After four relatively unremarkable tracks, the disc hits its creative stride in the mid-section of the track list (coincidence?) with a four-track run that shows both vulnerability and spunk.
The testimonial No Less Than A Woman (Infertility) features a chorus that has the ring of Marcia Griffiths circa the late 1970s/early ’80s. Not The World’s Prettiest — with it’s bell-driven rhythm track — unabashedly shows the off-stage alter-ego, Marion, at her most prosaic and domestic. You Need Me updates the ‘country-rockers’ hybrid she previously explored fruitfully on Give Me The Reason, channelling Dolly Parton, vintage r&b and early Jamaican gospel in a loopy yet likeable mix. Baby Dry Your Eyes might just be the album’s sleeper classic, hopping back-and-forth between cabaret sultry and modern, dancehall-influenced swing with typical Lady Saw bravura.
Bravura is the stock-in-trade of the title track, aimed at a rival female. No further evidence is required than the opening line:
Since de selector ah tell you
Walk out mek me buss up you mout’.
The next track, Chat To Mi Back continues in the same vein.
Thereafter, things become more derivative. It’s Like That is the standard (one-way) tracing match, while Power Of The P– , with a dense hip hop beat, lyrically takes Saw back to her super-raunchy beginnings. Like It is little more than a sequel to I Got Your Man, and Stray Dog closes the set with a dual course out build-up, the type which her male counterparts have long since rinsed clean.
Having stamped her image on ’90s dancehall and been catapulted thereafter into the international pop circles (Vitamin Z, Gwen Stefani), Lady Saw has — over the last few years — found herself on a tightrope of sorts. This album is not the proverbial great leap without a net, but it’s an interesting step forward.
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