What do you get when you mix a Canadian who loves American and British Rock and has a passion for heavy metal?
A rebirth of Calypso of course.
In all fairness, Drew Gonsalves was raised just outside Port-of-Spain, Trinidad before he moved to Canada at the age of 13. Like Shaggy, this islander-at-heart transplant, went back to his roots. But I digress. Actually, mentioning Shaggy in the same room as Kobo Town is a major digression and insult to Gonsalves revolutionary sound.
Most Americans, and really the world, know Calypso by Harry Belafonte and his Beetlejuice jam “Jump In Line (Shake, Shake Senora),” but the culture is much more than an impromptu dinner dance. As Gonsalves puts it himself “Calypso is the folk music of urban Trinidad.”
From “Kaiso Newscast,” to which he sings “If I had the choice/I would choose/to live right back when Calypso brought the news,” to “Tick Tock Goes The Clock” Kobo Town embodies a gorgeous, ardent presence that would make the forefathers of the sound proud.
Kobo Town’s second release, Jumbie In The Jukebox, makes it far too easy to move your hips and not realize the lyrics that narrate modern society in a fantastic poetic vision. Gonsalves is honest to god authentic and his music pours out of like a beautiful tide. He finds the perfect equation with just the right amount of island and intellect. He molds modern essence around a frame of tradition and displays it proudly without borders.
I enjoy eclectic vibes as much as the next person, but when I dove into Jumbie In The Jukebox I fell in love. From speaking to the uncommon traveler in “Postcard Poverty” to the honest paranoia in “Joe The Paranoiac” to the heartfelt “Diego Martin” I find myself sitting like a child at reading time hanging on every word and watching the picture unfold.
It is refreshing to have a group like Kobo Town emerge with such a vintage, yet relevant sound. Gonsalves has created a world void of pretense and packed with the most primal emotion; heart. Through the reality of Jumbie In The Jukebox, as any good music should, you can close your eyes and be transported to another time and place and sincerely feel the message. The trip taken with Kobo Town is very much worth your time and the journey is unforgettable.