Ricky Persaud Jr. is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer from New Jersey with roots spread over just about the entire Caribbean, from the Virgin Islands over St. Vincent & The Grenadines to Guyana and Barbados, and is what you could call a musical child prodigy, as he already took his first drum lessons at the Newark School of the Arts at the tender age of four. When, a few years later, his brother started guitar lessons, Ricky just needed to watch to pick up the same skills, and after a lot of practice he was already able to play could Bob Marley's entire back catalogue by age ten. Not satisfied with his self-taught technique Ricky decided to take up guitar lessons at the same Newark School of the Arts where he also learned to play the drums. However, shocked by the sudden demise of his tutor, jazz guitarist Hayes Johnson, from one day to the next, Ricky decides to give up on the guitar. During that same period, he discovers the music of Billy Joel and starts focusing on keyboards and piano. However, Ricky's mother, convinced her son's true talent were his guitar skills, perseveres and eventually enrolls him at the Mark Murphy School of Music in South Orange, an institute specialized in teaching guitar techniques. It was here that Ricky not only learned to perfect his guitar playing, but also discovered his vocal abilities. 'Optimistic Bliss' is already Ricky's third solo album to date and even though his mix of pop, jazz, r&b, blues and of course reggae, might sound a tad too commercial to reggae purists, Persaud Jr.'s guitar talent is unmistakable and the track list definitely contains a number of enjoyable songs. Stylistically opener 'Let Me See' leans more towards Santana's Latin-rock then to reggae, but the over confidentially titled 'Sounds Of A Hit' is definitely reggae, albeit the poppy kind bands like Bony M. or Men At Work scored numerous hits with during the 1980s. 'Ooh Baby' is an enjoyable tune in that typical surf-reggae style Californian reggae bands seem to have the patent on (see also 'Jah I Need Your Love'). With the excellent 'Reggae Blues', Ricky produced a song that does exactly what the title promises: mix reggae with blues. 'Girl Has The Essence' is an insignificant ska tune, but Persaud Jr. gets it right again with 'It's Alright', a slow dubby love tune. The absolute low point in the track list has to be 'People Of The World'; commercial reggae-pop that involuntarily reminded yours truly of German eighties-duo Modern Talking (not really a fond musical memory). Even though Ricky's guitar is prominent in just about every song on 'Optimistic Bliss', nowhere on the album that is more so than in 'Goodbye 16', a song about lost innocence opening with a metal-intro. Title track 'Optimistic Bliss', was given a punk rock-meets-reggae sound, and in closing track 'Alive' (another Santana-influenced tune) attentive listeners will recognize hints from the Sleng Teng riddim.