WHEREVER YOU GO
Reggae gives musicians many avenues — from frenetic dancehall styles to mellower rock-steady grooves, from proudly hedonistic anthems to passionate declarations of human dignity. Boston's Pressure Cooker travels a variety of reggae's roads on its aptly named "Wherever You Go."
Though it roams, the nine-piece ensemble remains disciplined in its approach, chiseling the 12 songs (make that 11 songs for the vinyl release) on its seventh LP into pop-size nuggets. Pressure Cooker begins with a bit of Two Tone inspiration as it merges Motown and Kingston influences on the original "Don't Mind Waiting." Most of the material falls into a feel-good groove, though "Brooklyn Bridge" and "Determination" are empowering rally songs for underdogs.
Sonically, Pressure Cooker shakes things up from song to song. The band blends mournful organ and plucky ukulele for a fresh texture on "Let Go." Singer Craig Akira Fujita turns rude boy on "97Z." But elsewhere he has a more tender heart, pining for home with "On My Way" and seeking solace on the road with "These Are My Friends."
While Fujita is a smooth, charismatic frontman, the band behind him provides plenty of clout as well. The proof is in the ska instrumental "All Time Wine," an especially nice showcase for keyboard player Zack Brines. It's hard to say which wave of reggae and ska we are currently on, but whichever one it is, Pressure Cooker is riding it very well.
Pressure Cooker plays a CD release show on Dec. 22 at the Middle East Upstairs in Cambridge.