If you’ve heard of Wayne Wonder and are operating under the belief that he’s a one-hit wonder, you are mistaken.
In 2003, the pioneering reggae singer gained international attention for his Grammy-nominated album “No Holding Back,” featuring the monster single “No Letting Go,” on which he made better use of the gently staccato, hand-clapping “Diwali riddim” than any other artist who used the wildly popular beat that year. But the 40-year old Jamaican had a career for decades before that moment in the worldwide spotlight, and, based on his new album, “My Way,” it’s feasible that his career will extend for decades.
The singer took a hiatus between “My Way” and his last album, 2007’s “Foreva,” but his sound is pretty much unchanged — there are no crazy gimmicks or concessions to appeal to a new audience. Wonder is still bringing sensitivity and romance to the dance hall, crooning in a pleasant mewl, incorporating R&B and hip-hop touches while crafting insanely catchy hooks.
“All About You” and “Xtra Ordinary” are sultry, R&B-tinged love songs built for winding and grinding. On “Sweet Dreams,” Wonder’s light cooing about a “loving spree” over an aggressive bass line could be mood music for everything from taking a warm bath to closing down the club.
“Caught Up,” a track about a freaky love triangle that bounces along over the fun-house synths of the “Love Bug riddim,” is the album’s main contender for crossover radio success. But even if it never cracks a chart or a commercial playlist, the song — and album — is still an undeniable success.
— Sarah Godfrey
“Caught Up,” “Sweet Dreams”