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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Van Eijk-Where I Belong (1999)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: January 18, 2017

If you like pop music, then sitting down in front of the computer screen and reading this next review of mine is right where you belong! It was through browsing the music profile on the Discogs.com database that I'd discovered the Norwegian singer, Stig Van Eijk, not then realizing that he too was a former competitor in the Eurovision Song Contest (and I've had the joy of listening to so many of the Eurovison talents over the past year or two). It wasn't long before curiosity got the best of me and I ended up in possession of his debut solo album, "Where I Belong", which gave me another opportunity for me to expand upon my cultural Norwegian music horizons. And expand upon them I did, because no less than six of the eleven songs featured here are headed for my playlists of favorites! The opening title track already foreshadowed that I was in for something real good here. After a nice and slow piano intro, this perfect pop song, which is about finally finding solace in the one he's waited for a long time to be with, evolves into quite the ear-appealing dance/pop rhythm while his fluid vocals melt over his honest words of 'you and me were meant to be'. I especially like how the song closes out with that dance/pop rhythm dropping out and his lasting words of 'no more tears' and ' it's over ' signifying that he's finally gotten to that place where he truly belongs. But the true pop breakout begins to erupt on, coincidentally, the follow-up jam called "Breakout"; I was electrified by the intro, the the tight beat and lovely chords serving as the backdrop to Van Eijk's lyrical confessions of being trapped by feelings and unable to set himself free. By the time I got to the funky jam, "Living My Life Without You", I mused to myself, 'wow—I really did make a good choice here!'.....or something to that effect; it's that funky synthesizing of the music indeed that keeps me hooked to this one! Not even halfway through the album was one of the most beautiful songs I've heard so far in this new 2017 year: "Sometimes I Wish". This tender, slowed-down number shows off the truly romantic side of the Norwegian singer, poetically singing about how he desires to fly away to a different world with his imagery of the rainbows and the birds painting an idyllic faraway paradise. In every pop music batch, there is always, always, always an unexpected and wonderful surprise awaiting me. This time, it was Track #6's "Be My Baby". Didn't know it until I got to the familiar chorus, but this turned out to be a slowed-down, trip-hop remake of THE RONETTES classic from the 60's; the familiar words of ' won't you please ' and 'be my baby now' that he sings while leading the chorus clued me in that it was exactly that! Very ambitious of him to add a hip twist with the rap during the midway break—and it works! "The One You Love": This simple warming mid-tempo song, which celebrates how good it feels to be with somebody you love, is one of those that sneak up on you and eventually grows on you as it moves along. "Still In Love" is another dance/pop beauty—the sad tonality of the chords of the accompanying guitar in the introductory movement instantly caught me before the full-out dance/pop beat broke through—that's also a real charmer, once you get into the lyrics. Great are unified voices in the main chorus, and it's those same voices repeating the 'still in love with you baby' during the beat drop break that totally make this jam stand out! "Sometimes I Wish" was just one place where Van Eijk doesn't have to rock out with the dance/pop to excite and thrill. Further evidence can be found on his other touching slow gems: "I Was There For You", the respectful acoustic guitar tribute to his mother "Don't Let Go" and this album's second unexpected surprise, "Goodnight Sweetheart", which is quite the classy, doo wop-inspired acapella number with lots of harmony to melt into your senses. "Where I Belong"—a fine piece of artistry that belongs in every pop lover's music collection:

1. Where I Belong
2. Breakout
3. Living My Life Without You
4. Sometimes I Wish
5. C'Mon
6. Be My Baby
7. I Was There For You
8. The One You Love
9. Still In Love
10. Don't Let Go
11. Goodnight Sweetheart

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

PC QUEST-PC Quest (1991)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: January 17, 2017

The quest is over! Or has it just begun? One more fulfilled long-standing pop music request arrives at "The Music Spectrum" in the form of the much-sought-after self-titled debut by the Oklahoma-based band that called itself PC QUEST. It had been a personal quest to play it many weeks ago, but it made for a nice after-Christmas/New Year's treat when I finally played it for my ears earlier this afternoon. I was reminded of the band's adolescent voices—not to mention the fact that it's not very often that my music-listening activities include me listing to adolescent artists altogether (although I have been tuning into the likes of vintage-80's Debbie Gibson and Tiffany a lot lately)—upon taking in the starry opening ballad, "After The Summer Is Gone". It's one of those 80's-sounding, soft rock radio-perfect tunes where the singer/songwriter wants the object of his or her affection to keep remembering all of the good times until they meet again. Not only is that one radio-friendly for the easy-listening audience, but so are the two other just-as-starry, twinkly ballads "Can I Call You My Girl?" and their very mature effort, "Can't You See?", where the dilemma of walking away from the one you love or staying close is explored. Thinking more about this band's maturity, they craft together perhaps their best offering overall on Track #6's warming, breezy tune, "I'm Still Cold", where I found myself being dazzled by the boy on lead vocals and his high soaring vocals. Aside from appealing to the adult contemporary crowd, the kids are simply kids when they come at you with a flurry of fun dance-pop jams, spearheaded by the glitzy "Show Me", whose the suspenseful groove and the sparkling synthesized production are some real ear candy; the music itself actually makes me think about Michael Jackson's hit, "Billie Jean", in some ways. Then there's "The Hardest Part (Is Being Young)", where the Nice upbeat dancey groove and the delightful hook showcasing their collective voices steadily grew on me. "Just Forget About Them" is pure pop bliss, with the boys adding in some hip-hop flavor with the rap midway through. They had also rapped some on "Show Me", then show off their lite-hearted rap skills again on "Loverboy" (I like the double-voice effect and lyrics on verse #2 about the guys who aren't the serious lovers having no soul and two left feet) while everyone joins in with the slick street-wise rhymes on the funky concluding jam, "Ready, Aim, Dance!" (that bold and in-your-face ' this is from the posse in the Sooner State ' is my favorite part). Searching for something good on this album isn't a daunting task whatsoever; your only real quest is to enjoy every minute and every second of this 30+ minute-long pop music adventure:

1. After The Summer Is Gone
2. Don't Be Afraid
3. Can I Call You My Girl?
4. Show Me
5. The Hardest Part (Is Being Young)
6. I'm Still Cold
7. Just Forget About Them
8. Can't You See?
9. Loverboy
10. Ready, Aim, Dance!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Shawn Mullins-Soul's Core (1998)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: January 16, 2017

A chilly, gloomy, rain-pouring afternoon is a perfect time to stay indoors and get cozy with some easy-listening folk rock. So was the setting for me in my neck of the woods here on my latest stop along my continued easy-listening soul journeys. A two-year-old music recommendation for me now becomes a New Year's recommendation to you: "Soul's Core", the fourth solo album by a very distinguished singer-songwriter I'm glad I got to know for the first time ever today. Shawn Mullins: it was such a pleasure in hearing this guy's distinctively Southern voice and the intimate, colorful stories he tells with the acoustic guitar as his primary musical companion—quite refreshing on my ears, considering how long it had been since I last indulged in something from the folk music genre. I'd randomly selected "Soul's Core" from Shawn'd discography, not even realizing that the song he's most recognized for—"Lullaby"—was one of the thirteen tracks on it. I instinctively, then, started with that one, a nice alternative-style soft rock piece that I initially believed would be a spoken word sort of tune— I gathered that from his short intro where he mentions Bob Seger and SONNY & CHER—before his delivery of 'rock-a-by' and ' everything's gonna be alright ' in the chorus, where I would get a good feel for his versatile vocal range. The alternative rock spirit emerges again later on the perky, upbeat gem that is "September In Seattle" (love listening to the piano playing along with the music here), plus "And On A Rainy Night" (my favorite part being when the song comes alive for a spell once the music breaks into its uptempo arrangement), where the alternative rock and his stunning vocals put a glimmering touch on both "Soul Child" (one of Shawn's strongest vocal performances of the album overall) and the concluding piece, "Shimmer", where he proudly sings about a lady who radiates and glows up his life. That stunning voice becomes center stage, however, whenever that aforementioned acoustic guitar serves as the main background music; that's when warming tunes like the country-inspired "Ballad Of Billy Jo McKay", the beautiful romantic number "You Mean Everything To Me" (a reminder that love is the ultimate healer; the way he delivers the stilled, drawn-out 'you' when singing title lyrics towards the end, and the ' we're ' when singing about himself and the lady being no exception to the rule, is simply breathtaking), and the hazy, gentle number "The Gulf Of Mexico" really stand out. Then there's a trio that I found especially touching. "Twin Rocks, Oregon": this campy, Indian-summer-on-the-mountaintop kinda song is a bittersweet tale about a good buddy of his that had me locked in and feeling I was right there in that exact moment with him. "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down": I always get drawn into these mellow pieces, and I like his interesting words of 'something about a Sunday that makes the body feel alone'—they got me thinking—and the closeout extended instrumental with the catchy 'doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo' that makes me want to hum along to the music. "Patrick's Song": A story about a close friend who died too soon; a beautiful song that ends too soon. My senses were surely weighed down by the poetic and vocal brilliance displayed on "Anchored In You" (his ability to switch from deep and soulful one moment to high and lofty the next with his delivery of ' I'm stoned in San Francisco ' is wonderful to hear). And for a little more country-inspired fun, there's the "Tannin Bed Song". Turned out not to be about just the actual tanning bed, but a humorous tale about the lady named Maria who lays on the tanning bed who ends up taking the microwave oven, the TV, the kids and the whole shebang to leave a tired old life behind. "Soul's Core": an album with a lot of heart, and one more highlight in my continued easy-listening journeys:

1. Anchored In You
2. Lullaby
3. The Gulf Of Mexico
4. September In Seattle
5. Twin Rocks, Oregon
6. And On A Rainy Night
7. Tannin Bed Song
8. Soul Child
9. Ballad Of Billy Jo McKay
10. Patrick's Song
11. Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down
12. You Mean Everything To Me
13. Shimmer

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Jeffrey Gaines-Jeffrey Gaines (1992)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: January 14, 2017

My easy-listening soul music journeys continued today with a truly magnificent singer who had piqued some interest many moons ago: Jeffrey Gaines. Had his name saved on my recommendations list with the intention to get around to him eventually. Seemed that I had already listened to his music before, but when I realized none of his albums were present in my library, I concluded that his name being so similar to artists whom I previously have listened to—British soul singer, Geoffrey Williams; Canadian singer Jacques Gaines, who fronted the 90's r&b group SOUL ATTORNEYS; and more recently, Rosie Gaines, who came to my attention in the aftermath of the passing of the legendary Prince—is what led to that momentary hint of déjà vu. But all familiarity soon dissipated the moment I tuned in the opening track to Jeffrey's self-titled debut, "Hero In Me". Already in the first few seconds of this song, I was delighted by the acoustic guitar groove and his distinctively husky voice. Though it was when I started getting into this song's interesting lyrics— ' there's got to be some hero in me ' being one line from the chorus that struck me—that I determined this guy was another one of those highly respected, conceptual artists whose colorful ideas on relationships, personal struggles and life altogether totally allow you to get deep into the songwriter's mind. It was the follow-up mid-tempo, alternative soft rock piece, "Scares Me More", when I got my first inklings that this album was leading down a rather dark path.....an album whose theme is about a haunted man who's surely dealt with a lot of heartache and suffering through the years. The way he wails the repeated 'scares me, scares me, scares me' as the song reaches the end affected me in some way. "I Didn't Want To Be Daddy": the title had already grabbed my attention, making me wanting to find out just why he didn't want to be a father to the child. A man too young and not prepared for responsibility—a haunting image indeed. It became my second favorite following "Hero In Me", appreciating the overall sound highlighted by the extended instrumentals during the midway point. "Love Disappears" captured my senses with the quiet, slow acoustic guitar and piano in the beginning setting the tone for an empty, desolate place that Jeffrey seems to be heading into all throughout the song. ' When you're not here, love disappears ', he says, and it's a nice touch to have those final words trail off as the song fades out, almost as if metaphorically, that love is still disappearing into a state of nothingness. "A Dark Love Song": this title grabs my attention, too, prompting me to ask, ' What's dark about this love song? '. That same soft acoustic guitar featured in the introductory movement to "Love Disappears" creates the lonely, desolate setting for this one as well as he sings about being trapped and unable to break free, having a disease he'll bear to stay in love, being in the long chain of fools, people being slaves for love, being bruised but ready to love..... Then almost as if it was like the final nail in the coffin—love's death, as it were—the final deep tone of the piano key is the very last thing heard. "No, I Don't Think So": the third song whose title grabbed my attention is Jeffrey's own-to-earth way of confessing how some people in only dwell on the pain and the negativity (which is an issue that applies to all areas of life, in fact), the ' don't think so ' referring to him not ever seeing the woman again. Definitely one of his best vocal performances on his album! "Choices": an excellent offering where Jeffrey takes a stand and boasts loud and clear, ' It's my mind and my body, so leave my choices alone! ' . "Sorry The Very Next Day" became the fourth whose title provoked and had me conjuring up questions. ' Who's the one who's sorry? ' It appeared this acoustic guitar gem was about either his father or a very good male friend of his, taking into account his words about that special person being six feet tall and talking about girls at a younger age. Wishing someone to be out of your life, but then quickly wishing that they were still there with you—one of life's biggest regrets. "Headmasters Of Mine": this album's final selection sees Jeffrey wowing me again with the stunning vocal performance he delivers here while his words of the blind leading the blind and molding an innocent mind leaving much food for thought during and afterwards. There is, however, a ray of sunlight cast within this dark soul journey: "What It Is". The emotions are more positive and upbeat this time around, as Jeffrey searches for the one thing that keeps him loving the woman and wondering if she's alright; to phrase the title to a memorable ROXETTE hit from the 80's, it must've been love:

1. Hero In Me
2. Scares Me More
3. I Didn't Want To Be Daddy
4. Love Disappears
5. Fear
6. A Dark Love Song
7. Why?
8. No, I Don't Think So
9. Choices
10. What It Is
11. Sorry The Very Next Day
12. Headmasters Of Mine

Friday, January 13, 2017

Gerry DeVeaux-Rhythm & Love (1994)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: January 13, 2017

Flying high on the wings of my almighty adventures with Filipino phenom, Martin Nievera, and the American star, Keith Martin, my easy-listening soul journey continued last night with a third accomplished male solo singer who too came as highly recommended to me. I'm more than two decades behind the rest of the popular music audience in experiencing the world of Mr. Gerry DeVeaux; my first step in catching up and getting acquainted with him was formally checking out this fine solo debut entitled "Rhythm & Love". And 'rhythm' and 'love' it is indeed—the smooth jazz and r&b swings of the music arrangements being the rhythm, the poetic and thoughtful words he has to say on every song being the love; Gerry's exotic voice binding the two forces together. 'Ooh yeah, this guy sings good!' was my immediate thought upon taking in the very first words of the opening verse to "Don´t Take Back (Your Love)", and I kept that notion in mind when I enjoyed the jam-packed attraction that is "Come Into My Life (Make It Better)", where I would find myself so busy groovin' to the beat and the sexy saxophone that saving this one to my 'Pop Mix' playlist for continued groovin' later was something that I was absolutely determined to do! It was the jams like that one, plus Track #8's "Give Me A Little Love", "There Goes My Heart" (I like how his vocals of the chorus echo with every delivery of ' if you want to run with it, it's all yours ') and "Good Thing Going On" that make me reminisce on all of the wonderful times I had as a devoted listener to the local smooth jazz radio station. Then there are the sunny feel-gooders—the breezy ride song, "Never Giving Up", "People Together", the concluding song of eternal promise that is "No Better Love", and the delicate slow piece, "Wake Up With You"—that really warm the soul. I had predicted that "Heaven Help" would be a haunting piece about requiring divine intervention for something he's struggling with emotionally; turns out to be the exact reverse and not as deep, as it's a plea to help the woman who ends up being attached to him instead. "Heaven Help" deserves being put on the spotlight because I deemed it as one of Gerry's best here, his vocals so rich and crystal clear. Though it's those same vocals that took me some getting used to on what was my latest 'Music Surprise of The Day': his cover of the old STAPLE SINGERS classic, "I'll Take You There". I'm so used to the collectively powerful and gritty chords of the lady who performs some of the leads, boasting 'oh I, oh I' between verses and 'help me, help me' in the chorus above the backup singers who are delivering the title lyrics. This Gerry DeVeaux modernized, low-key funky remake, however, still appeals, and so does the smooth groove and everything else featured on foreign language track, "Voci Les Ces" (is that French or Italian?), despite me not understanding hardly a word of it. My first step almost complete (I have to treat myself to some replays to "Come Into My Life (Make It Better)" and, perhaps, a few of my other favorite selections), I look forward to extending this soulful journey with Gerry's second solo effort, "Back To You":

1. Don´t Take Back (Your Love)
2. Come Into My Life (Make It Better)
3. Heaven Help
4. Never Giving Up [Devox Mix]
5. There Goes My Heart
6. Good Thing Going On
7. People Together
8. Give Me A Little Love
9. Voici Les Cles
10. I'll Take You There
11. Wake Up With You
12. No Better Love
13. Heaven Help [Nassau To Tokyo Mix]
14. Never Giving Up [Original Version]

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Keith Martin-It's Long Overdue (1995)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: January 10, 2017

From one marvelously-soulful Martin to another Martin.who's just as soulfully marvelous—the same devoted blog follower who had recommended that I listen to Filipino phenom Martin Nievera six years ago had also brought the American r&b singer Keith Martin to my attention. Coincidentally, both artists enjoyed success in the blog follower's native Philippines, from what I leaned, and just as I finally fulfilled some long-overdue curiosity with Martin Nievera's "My Souvenirs" keepsake, I fulfilled the same destiny with Keith's 1995 debut. It was a song I had no recollection of ever having heard before that had made this once-unknown-to-me r&b singer the instant sensation that he was over in the Far East decades ago: "Never Find Someone Like You". I can clearly see why now; this beautiful opening ballad, which totally sounds like a lot of the easy-listening tunes presented on the OPM circuit, is a fine specimen of adult contemporary r&b. Right away, I declared this man to be a very respectable singer, taking special note of the excellent carry and range in his vocals, particularly when they became high and lofty towards the song's closing movements. There was no reason at all to stop listening at that point; "Any Kind Of Reason" sparked my senses further with its instantly-appealing arrangement in the opening moments, followed by the warming ballad celebrating the triumph of finding love that is "Somehow .... Someway...:, which triumphs altogether with Keith's powerful vocal delivery as the music climaxes and fades out in the end. If it feels so 'good, then why does it hurt so bad?' That lengthy interrogative is the message and primary theme on this album's fabulous fourth track, which I found to be just as striking and OPM-music-circuit qualified as the "Never Find Someone Like You" hit that made him so attractive to the Filipino audience. As for the ones that were a big-time hit for me here..... "Moment In Time" captivated me the moment I took in the cinematic orchestral opening and its whole mellow tenderness—another one of those magical 'forever' types of songs with the endless chorus that I could keep playing on and on into and through the night. "Think Of You All The Time" is one of those songs with only the backing orchestral cinematics and light guitar that enables a soulicious singer's voice to be heard crystal clear; here, Keith puts on an dazzling display in what, at that point, I had declared as the most stunning performance of all! But it would get equally matched by the amazing piano ballad and romantic tribute that is "Because Of You", with the superbly-produced, jazzed-up concluding tribute, "Knocks Me Off My Feet", deserving a place on the same pedestal of distinction. Besides my own socks being knocked off by these marvelous Martin slow jams, I would find find just as much delight in hearing his dynamite vocals on the uptempo jams as well, particularly when he's fronting "Give It Up" and, a personal favorite, "L.O.V.E. Love", where there's some serious new jack swing groovin' goin' as he breaks it down hard on what love is supposed to be all about:

1. Never Find Someone Like You
2. Any Kind Of Reason
3. Somehow ... Someway ...
4. If Love Feels So Good (Why Does It Hurt So Bad?)
5. One Mile From Paradise
6. Moment In Time
7. Operator
8. Forever Will Be (The Wedding Song)
9. Give It Up
10. You'll Never Be Alone
11. Real Love
12. L.O.V.E. Love
13. Think Of You All The Time
14. Because Of You
15. Knocks Me Off My Feet

Monday, January 9, 2017

Martin Nievera-My Souvenirs (2001)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: January 9, 2017

Here's a wonderful keepsake to add to your contemporary soul collection! While shopping around for something else in the easy-listening music catalog yesterday, I recalled another popular, hugely-successful artist that had been recommended to me six years ago: Filipino singer Martin Nievera. I'm so surprised now that he hadn't graced my ears much sooner than this 2017 year, considering how much time I've been spending on the OPM circuit and enjoying the likes of Gary Valenciano, NEOCOLOURS, Lea Salonga, SIDE A and Regine Velasquez, and especially since this man is a pure legend, having been recording and performing since the early 80's. While I do plan to return back in time to my favorite decade to enjoy the beginnings of his celebrated career, a world of new music memories were created for me, in the meantime, after my hour-long plus adventure here on Martin's fourteenth overall solo album. It all started with the moving opening ballad, "Never Said Goodbye", where I would get formally acquainted with his beautifully soulful voice, which captivated me even more when it soared and shined in the climactic final movements; it was during that very first song where I realized that I had indeed found another keeper. Shortly afterwards, I'd get my second realization: his exquisite excellence in delivering the magical duet and having the great vocal chemistry to be paired up with any singer he chooses. He performs the magically starry love song, "The Greatest Love Affair", with his father, Bert Nievera; "The Last Time I Felt Like This" with Kyla (whom I've had pleasure of hearing before as well); "It's All Up To You" with an unfamiliar female vocalist named Mikalia; and my favorite one of the bunch simply entitled "Forever", which reacquainted me once again with the lovely and piercing voice of Regine Velasquez. I had, in fact, imagined Martin holding the unofficial title of 'The Peabo Bryson Of The Philippines', thinking about all of the many colorful duets that Peabo himself has performed right here on my own American soil over the decades. The songs I admired most were all of the ones whose theme was poetically romantic dedication, and they all so happen to contain the simple word 'you'. Coincidentally, Track #3 is entitled with just those three exact letters, and it's more proof that the songs with the simplest and shortest titles tend to be the ones that are most meaningful and make the biggest impact on me. The music is so enchanting; it's the light guitar and breezy woodwind accompaniment to to the slowed groove and Maertin's tender vocals that had me sold before he even sung any words! "You’re My Everything" is full of beautiful poetics with only the acoustic guitar and high-quality cinematic instrumentals creating the perfect romantic backdrop. "I'll Be There (For You)" contains some of the most thoughtful lyrics (I like the last part of the chorus that begins with 'when your stars don't shine anymore'). Then there's "You Are My Song", which shows off just how majestic and stunning Martin's voice can be. Besides those amazing dedications, there's a trio of gems that require you and your ears to dedicate your full and undivided attention. "The Promise" is one that gave me the notion that Martin surely has found major success, at some point in time, in the operatic crossover pop genre and/or performed in live theater, given his distinctive crooner's voice that he portrays throughout this warming, dreamy number, which brings to mind any of those peaceful Christmas tunes from the traditional holiday songbook. It's the thunderous climax here that elevates "The Promise" to being one of the premiere highlights of this Martin Nievera adventure, although his stunning, showstopping vocal display is not to be denied on neither "Promise Of Love" nor "To Say Goodbye". I saved the best treasure among these souvenirs for last: "The Greatest Love Of All". I was absolutely THRILLED when I saw it on the track-listing! It occurred to me that I'd never heard the George Benson original from the 70's, but I sure knew and loved the thunderous Whitney Houston version, so it was her voice that I heard echoing in my mind while listening to Martin's piano ballad interpretation in his more gentler, slow jazz approach. A song I cherished back in the 80's—it definitely made this hour-long plus adventure complete for me, and it's just one of the reasons why this musical keepsake will not end up staying on the shelf inside the souvenir shop:

1. Never Said Goodbye
2. The Greatest Love Affair [with Bert Nievera]
3. You
4. You're My Everything
5. The Last Time I Felt Like This [wiith Kyla]
6. The Greatest Love Of All
7. You Are My Song
8. Forever [with Regine Velasquez]
9. The Promise
10. Promise Of Love
11. To Say Goodbye
12. I'll Be There (For You)
13. It’s All Up To You [with Mikaila]
14. Ikaw Lang Ang Mamahalin
15. Kahit Isang Saglit
16. Pag-Uwi

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Bryan Rice-Good News (2007)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: January 7, 2017

Extra! Extra! Come read all about this next music treat! Catching up with one of the many recent recommendations to me, I made some time yesterday to treat my ears to this second album by a Danish pop singer/songwriter whom I'd never had the pleasure of listening to before. It was during a momentary stretch a few months ago while I was on a Danish pop kick that I'd get introduced to Bryan Rice, and that Danish pop kick just may have gotten jump-started again the moment I became dazzled by his beautiful voice on the opener, "Here I Am", loving especially how that voice soared into a high and lofty stratosphere in his stellar singing of the title lyrics at the end of the chorus. Had to play it twice, as I often feel compelled to do with any dazzling gems like these; it was a sure early indicator that I would adore hearing this guy sing the rest of the way through! Bryan's beautiful voice, and the refreshing easy-listening pop/rock sound accompanying it, would captivate my audio senses next on "A Call For Help", one of those upbeat, wake-up-in-the-morning numbers that locks you in with that get-stuck-in-your-head-all-day feeling and whose lyrics became a secondary early indicator of his thoughtful and solid songwriting techniques (I really liked his inclusion of the oft-mentioned expression 'once bitten, twice shy' in the second verse). It was simply pure bliss to hear that lofty, soaring voice of his singing only the words 'I lied' over and over on the follow-up track, which tells a rather painful story of not really being over the woman in his life and pretending to have not been hurt. But the mood quickly shifts right afterwards with the gloriously good title track, where he confidently spreads the good news about the woman who makes him happy and whole. Hearing him confess just how special she is in his colorful comparisons to everything positive will definitely make listeners feel good about the ones they're with or, at the very least, brighten up your day and instill confidence for you to go out and seek that special someone in your life. That instant adoration I felt upon hearing his voice for the first time on "Here I Am" came over me on "This Is For You", "Everywhere You'll Be", "Just Walk Away" (his whispery, breathy vocals in the introductory movement have a distinctive aching and desperate sting, which totally captures the essence of this song) and, one of the coolest songs on this album in terms of presentation and style, "Sleeping Satellite" (his introductory vocals here have an echoing, distorted effect to them, which is a nice touch for the whole cosmic 'satellite' theme to this one). "Simply Complicated": it's another whose title immediately got me thinking and wondering, another where his terrific songwriting techniques are shown off with the great chorus, talking about things being upside-down and inside-out and spinning round and round. Yet there's absolutely nothing complicated about Bryan's straightforward approach on the epic moving piece, "Those Who Love Us The Most". This mellow piano ballad features some lovely orchestral background overtures, highlighting his beautiful voice and making it the clear center of attention while the words of lives being more precious than gold and keeping those lives close truly opening up my mind and speaking to me. In almost stark contrast is the concluding piece, "We're Not". Despite the warming, intimate arrangement of the piano and orchestral music, which highlights that beautiful voice and puts it on center stage once again, the story of a shattered romantic dream puts a negative taste on the end of this listening journey; kinda ironic, considering everything else good here that "Good News" delivers to your audio doorstep:

1. Here I Am
2. A Call For Help
3. I Lied
4. Good News
5. Sleeping Satellite
6. Those Who Love Us The Most
7. This Is For You
8. Everywhere You'll Be
9. Just Walk Away
10. Simply Complicated
11. We're Not