Monday, January 30, 2017

Ariel Rivera-Once Again (2008)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: January 30, 2017

Yes indeed—I have once again returned back into the world of OPM easy-listening music. I could have continued my listenings with the recently-featured Martin Nievera—and I do plan to resume that sometime in the near future—or by reacquainting myself with any one of the numerous Filipino artists whose music I've had the pleasure of hearing long before that. This time, however, I opted for a different singer from the OPM catalog, ending up with another beautiful, warm-voiced singer in the person of Ariel Rivera. As I still have Martin Nievera on my mind, I keep wanting t write 'Ariel Nievera', as the surnames are similar. Interestingly enough, it turns out that Ariel does in fact sound quite similar to Martin—at least here in his 2008 effort entitled "Once Again"—and that distinction was made shortly after I realized that Ariel had even been pegged as having a similar sound to Martin in an online music database. Similar vocally, as well as production wise; I took notice of both on the touching opener, "Softly Saying Sorry". I somehow got to thinking about Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly" before I even played the song—must have been the 'softly' in the title—but the themes of the two songs deviate from course drastically when Ariel begins singing apologies and desiring to hold the woman again while Roberta's golden classic speaks more about reflecting on a man who touched her and romanced her in all the right ways. Though just about as much as I'd been enjoying replays of "Killing Me Softly" over the past month or so, the follow-up to the opener, "When I'm With You", has suddenly began seeing the same amount of replay time. Half a dozen times already, at least, is how much I've played this soft rock radio gem of romantic dedication that this one is! The music is just perfect, with Ariel's words of the sun shining and all of his dreams coming true when he's with her and everything else he conjures up from the heart molding the song into a truly magical affair. It's fun listening to the skippy arrangement presented on "This Love Won't Leave Me Alone". What begins with a cool flurry of monotonic, hypnotic beeps blossoms into a nifty groove that plays with the senses while Ariel entertains with his high, lofty voice delivering the classic story of not being able to escape from love nor get it off of his mind. "Bridge To Forever": I like these kinds of simple love songs; here, he simply says that love is gonna be that special thing that will build that bridge to a lifetime of happiness. And here's a gem that I could listen to forever: "Go The Distance". I get that majestic, inspirational feeling with the way this song triumphantly breezes along, bringing to mind any of those motivational anthems for those monumental sports competitions or other similar epic, Olympic-sized events. If nothing else, the words of self-encouragement and optimism for perseverance are a joy to take in. Here's one that could surely move an entire Olympic stadium-crowd: "Ready To Fly". This stellar duet begins with the piercing voice of an Amy Pearson singing solo in the soft, opening movement before Ariel and his deep, warming solo tenor sweep in with the accompanying main beat. Couldn't wait to hear them performing together, and when they did and their unified voices soared above the rafters, it was total music heaven! Such a powerful song with excellent backing production! Even the album's lone breakup song—at least on the English side—is a beauty: "Why You Have To Go". The title already speaks of something not good, and the slowed, gentle groove serves as a suitable arrangement for a song where Ariel sings his reasons for bidding the woman in his life farewell. As for the Tagalog tracks, each is a beauty in its own right, my ears especially finding delight in the tender, mellow sound of "Kakayanin Ko Ba" Lovely" and "Minsan Pa Lang". They sure made for nice background instrumentals, which is how I sometimes treat songs sung in foreign languages, but they also served as reminders that it would be nicer if I someday got schooled on understanding the Tagalog tongue:

1. Softly Saying Sorry
2. When I'm With You
3. Kakayanin Ko Ba
4. This Love Won't Leave Me Alone
5. Why You Have To Go
6. Kaya Lang
7. Kung Ako Na Lang Sana
8. Minsan Pa Lang
9. Go The Distance
10. Bridge To Forever
11. Ready to Fly (Malaysian Duet With Amy Pearson)

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