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One of reggae's brightest hopes comes to the UK

KING: Romain Virgo has been working relentlessly towards his latest album, Lovesick

"BWOY SEANI, mi sorry, mi sorry, mi sorry!” Tracking down Romain Virgo lately has been a harder task than ever before.

When I did eventually get hold of him he was busy in rehearsal for what seems a never-ending tour schedule. It came less than 24 hours after a quick visit to St Thomas to look at a potential video shoot for a forthcoming single.

To be fair, Romain is one of the nicest characters that you can come across – always ready to fulfil requests and seemingly forever wearing a smile. I sent him back into his rehearsal with the promise of talking in two hours’ time.

This gave me more time to appreciate the 16 tracks of his new album, Lovesick, released on March 30 to coincide with his UK tour in April.

Real Romain Virgo fans know exactly what to expect from the man labelled as an ‘Old Soul’. He is the self-titled Love Doctor of his generation and doesn’t disappoint with power reggae love songs like the title track Lovesick and Trouble.

The album is laced with love, and I really mean love. When we reconnect that evening, Romain tells me that this album is about him and his love life. “These songs are things I’ve been through. A lot of people wouldn’t do this – they would ask, ‘How are you gonna sing about love for 15 tracks?’.

“But these are things that I’ve been through and a lot of people will be able to relate to them.”

Talk of this album has been circulating for a while now, and I was keen to find out why there was such a delay in it coming. He tells me that album was virtually finished a year ago and was two years in the making – except for three tracks from Shaggy’s in-house producer Sting International that they waited for due to their busy schedules.

The album also has a younger dancehall feel towards its conclusion. “The aim was to have more a youthful vibe,” he says, “I used to sing on dancehall riddims, but felt I needed to DJ, which was the wrong approach. Over the years I learnt I need to just do me – I needed to sing. “There is nothing wrong with sing- ing on a dancehall riddim and putting your heart and soul in it.”

It’s undeniable that Romain has songwriting skills, too, and the impression he gave me throughout our conversation sounded like he couldn’t wait for the world to hear what he’s been up to.

His excitement was clear at the mention of coming to the UK. I asked him why he thought he has such a good rapport with audiences from these shores. “I think the UK just loves songs of love. They appreciate music – it doesn’t matter if it’s a new song or not, they just listen to music and have a mature appreciation of it. This is why I cannot wait to get back over there to present my show.

“Every time I have been there I have been with other artists and had to rush my set, but now I think I can do a longer session and take my time.”

During our conversation, I was reminded of the short amount of time it has taken Romain to carve out a position and respect for himself amongst some of the very best reggae
vocalists.

Not only does he write great songs and deliver them with top class vocal, but he has the right attitude to go with it all.

Catch Romain Virgo at shows across the UK
April 4: O2 Institute, Birmingham
April 5: Band on the Wall, Manchester
April 6: Wardrobe, Leeds April 7: Tramshed, Cardiff April 8: Scala, London

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