Ria - Ria
Songstress Ria enters the scene with her self-titled debut album. Sure to snatch up some Shakira and J-Lo fans, Ria stays within the same vein as her predecessors. There's a little something for everyone here: Pop, Dance, and R&B with strong Latin influence - all in one neat package. It would be a bit misleading though to say Latin was the only ethnicity represented here, as "Into Me" has a definite Middle Eastern flavor, at least in the predominant riff throughout the song.
Ria sings about topics everyone can relate to: love, heartache, having fun, and the complications of relationships. And who doesn't have a soft spot for their mom? Ria dedicates a heartwarming song to her own mother called "Momma's Love". She starts by singing, "You taught me how to ride my bike. You raised me up to do things right".
"Club Zombie" has an amazing intro that literally puts you in a trance and makes you forget where you are for a moment. Okay, not really; but Ria's heavenly voice on top of a rhythmic bed of synthesizers hits an audible sweet spot, for sure. I didn't particularly care for the change of mood in the verses, where the tempo is cut in half for dramatic effect. Having good song dynamics is one thing, but taking me in and out of trance is just tantalizing.
I'm not one to always feel you have to break the mold with every release. But let's face it, urban music is a particularly trendy form, usually catering to youth. Survival rests in the hands creating those trends, rather than the ones just trying to keep up. This is where Ria failed for me. Some (not all) of the songs sound dated by at least five years. "Queens", for example, is fun but sounds a little too close to Jennifer Lopez's "Let's Get Loud". This wouldn't be too much of a problem if it successfully channeled the same energy from that song, but it unfortunately did not.
The vocals are there. The production is there. The potential is there. But the magic isn't. In that respect, this album misses the mark for me. It's a bit too safe for my taste. Nonetheless, the self-titled Ria is a solid pop/r&b effort with an unmistaken Latin flare. A little more pushing of the envelope, and Ria will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. Other key tracks include: "Alright", "Simply Happy", and "Anymore".
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