Joseph Israel is certainly not the most original artist to come along during the roots reggae revival of the early 2000s. His voice is not particularly distinctive and his songs cover no ground that hasn’t previously been trodden. But in spite of all that, Gone Are the Days is an extremely likable set of conscious, uplifting music, pure in its intentions and occasionally rising to thrilling in its delivery. Like a million other roots singers before him, Israel, a Christian-born Arkansan turned Rasta, praises Jah, pines for truth, righteousness, unity, justice, and a lot more love, and turns often for his imagery and lyrical direction to the Bible — and even more often to common respect, decency, and brotherhood. Requesting that mankind stop its foolish fighting and come together, right our wrongs, love one another, and be truthful might, on the surface, cause one to roll the eyes, but Israel sings his songs with such honest conviction that there’s never a doubt he’s sincere. The album was recorded at the famed Tuff Gong studios in Kingston, Jamaica, and features guest spots from the reggae star Luciano, the great guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith, Mikey General, and others. ~ Jeff Tamarkin Personnel: Luciano, Mikey General (vocals); Earl “Chinna” Smith (guitar); Dean Fraser (saxophone); Chris Meredith (bass guitar); Squidley Cole (drums); Uziah “Sticky” Thompson (percussion). Recording information: Tuff Gong Studios, Kingston, Jamaica.