At 18, Jah Cure sang with Sizzla on the brilliant Beres Hammond-produced hit, "King in the Jungle." Soon after, he was jailed for alleged rape. But during his eight year stint behind bars his audience swelled, fed by a stream of performances that producers smuggled out of prison until officials gave Cure access to a studio as part of a rehab program. After the 2004 hit "Longing For" — Cure's stunning take on the melancholy "Drop Leaf" riddim and one of the decade's best reggae songs — "Free the Cure" became a rallying cry. The contrast was part of the appeal — the keening Beres-like wail on songs about unrequited love hooked onto real-life scandal.
Released on the eve of his parole, True Reflections…A New Beginning largely justifies the buzz. "I swear I can be a better man," he sings on the opener (co-written by the prison superintendent). Cure is not immune to bland sentimentality (see "Love You") but "Dem Nuh Build Great Man," a rootsy critique of Babylon sung with Fantan Mojah, is all the better for Cure's hard-won wisdom. On cutting-edge one-drop ballads like "To Your Arms of Love," "Love Is" and "What Will It Take," an inspired Cure trades on themes of trust and redemption. If he can survive freedom, there's no limit to his potential.