Monday, January 2, 2017

EarthTONES-To Be Continued... (1994)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: January 2, 2017

Continuing where I left off right before the new year..... I'm now four for four in my current streak of fulfilling long-standing personal music wishes that I commenced before this new 2017 year. This latest fulfillment sees me returning back to the Canadian r&b troupe out of Calgary, Alberta that stylistically calls itself EarthTONES. As of June of 2016, they were still active and giving live performances, according to activities posted on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/theearthtones/. Meanwhile, I'm keeping them and their older recordings from the 90's active right here with this second studio album of their career. It had been quite a while since I first broke new ground with EarthTONES and enjoyed their soul-shaking, collective vocal harmony, so it was about time I reconstructed my music-listening lineup so that they could bring me back down to earth once again. Things were already building up to something good the moment I took in the smooth new jack swing groove of the opener, "My Mind", a classic case of the girl who's got the songwriter spinning around in circles and losing all control. My favorite parts are when the beatboxing and the backup crew's delivery of so in love with you' join forces during the midway break, plus hearing the lead guy's solo acapella of ' all the time it's my mind ' at the end and one of them spelling out 'M-I-N-D ' in what would be the first of several senselessly fun moments during this EarthTONES expedition. That sublime acapella—one of the primary ingredients that I vividly recall being a recipe for success for them, and I would get to enjoy plenty more of it during the respective introductory movements of "Save One", "Key To My Heart" and "Honestly". The first of that aforementioned trio is quite the poetic piece—singing about reaching into the sky and bringing down a raindrop or a star for the girl to hold scared for him—while the latter two of that trio are two of my personal delights—"Key To My Heart" appealing to me because of its suspenseful new jack swing rhythm, cool beatboxing and the unexpected yet brilliant high soaring vocals that cut into the music midway through; "Honestly" appealing to me because of its overall charm and tenderness, accented by the sweet sounds of the jazzy saxophone. That tender charm can be felt further on such beautiful offerings as "Remember This" (a heartwarming reminder to the special girl that she will always be that special girl), the skippy of a sunny feelgooder that is "Daydream" (I admire how the backup crew finishes the thoughts of the lead singe during each of the verses) and the concluding piece, "I'll Be Your Friend", whose soft piano acoustics pave the way for a soft rock radio-perfect ballad complete with cinematic orchestrals and clapping in final movements to give it a semi-epic feel before concluding with more of that marvelous EarthTONES harmony. It to starts off sounding like a piano ballad itself, but "Move This Night" evolves into some earthshaking of a different variety as the moving lyrics of promise and desire to shake things up romantically are presented; I was divinely impressed by the exceptional lead vocals here! Then some earthshaking of a different kind altogether can be felt when the tempo speeds up for the full-out dance jam that is "Sally" (here, they're singing about another special girl who is the only one in the guy's life who truly understands his feelings and where he's coming from) and semi-house jam that is "Counting Stars". Both of those are production highlights for sure, but I also found all the elements that went into "Two Of Myself" to be striking to my senses as well, particularly the accompanying guitar. And those senselessly fun moments I alluded to before? Well they ironically make a supreme comeback on the jam called "Serious", if the water-gargling effect and the other silly sound effects before the beats even fire up the song in the beginning are any indication. Almost lost is the actual meaning of the song—making a serious play at romance, to put it generally—because when the beat drop break cuts in with the sexy beatboxing, the slick rap and the playful acapella doo-wop/jazz snippet right afterwards, you'll be so caught up in all the frivolously flashy flair that the rest of the song is momentarily forgotten:

1. My Mind
2. Counting Stars
3. Save One
4. Two Of Myself
5. Daydream
6. Move This Night
7. Key To My Heart
8. Sally
9. Remember This
10. Serious
11. Honestly
12. I'll Be Your Friend

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