Ruben Anthony - Take It All (2014)

Ruben Anthony
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America already has one Ruben (Studdard that is). Are we seriously ready for another? Well, ready or not, here he comes. Caribbean native Ruben (Heerenveen) has already traveled the seven seas as an international nomad, calling places like Amsterdam, Holland, Vienna and even Los Angeles home all at some point. He’s made some strides by touring with Enrique Iglesias, performing in musicals like Fame and has made some strides as a solo singer with two solo albums in peripheral view (In My Room, his 2010 sophomore disc, was digitally distributed by Island Def Jam). Now Heerenveen, christened as Ruben Anthony, is starting to make landfall in the States, thanks to the arrival of his third solo album, Take It All.

America already has one Ruben (Studdard that is). Are we seriously ready for another? Well, ready or not, here he comes. Caribbean native Ruben (Heerenveen) has already traveled the seven seas as an international nomad, calling places like Amsterdam, Holland, Vienna and even Los Angeles home all at some point. He’s made some strides by touring with Enrique Iglesias, performing in musicals like Fame and has made some strides as a solo singer with two solo albums in peripheral view (In My Room, his 2010 sophomore disc, was digitally distributed by Island Def Jam). Now Heerenveen, christened as Ruben Anthony, is starting to make landfall in the States, thanks to the arrival of his third solo album, Take It All.

It’s a bit of a detour from his last affair, In My Room. That disc was stacked with baby-makin’ slow jams that flaunted the deviant activities of over-hyped urban contemporary crooners. This round – a nine-track affair showcasing three-minute radio-ready pilgrimages and sheen production from Iwan Van Hetten – finds him embracing a more neutral fitting. Lyrically, Anthony composes his works like a MOR pop singer, and the squeaky-clean productions tend to tilt that way, but there are traces of neo-soul and acoustic fire that reverberate through the cracks. “Take It All” kicks off the set using a decent size of funk, although its grooves are marred with echoes of redundancy. He pours his heart out on “Can’t Keep Running,” which inserts a Memphis blues-driven guitar into a smoldering melody. Another magnet puller “L.I.A.W.N.” builds off of Beatles’ “love” philosophy (“love is all we need”), while striking up familiar echoes of kick-ass Lenny Kravitz funk.

There’s also a sizable load of optimism and happy Michael Franti-like positivity aboard. “Feel the music, start to lose it and I know you’re gonna be alright,” Anthony sings on “The Brass Song,” right before a cavalcade of horns delights in his inspiration. Traces of that feel good energy can also be heard throughout the safe, but adaptable mid-tempo pop number, “I’ll Be OK.”

Despite the adoring content that decorates the front end of the disc, it starts to entertain demo-like exercises such as the cut “MJ Song,” which as a tribute to the King of Pop, teasing the curious ear, but lacking the imagination suited for a king. “Work It Out” shoots for juvenile potty-mouth chatter way too early in the game before it could aspire to reach the status of a doo-wop classic. As it marches into the final laps, the disc shows off its jazz-centric romantic ballads, seen inside “Beautiful Princess” and “Dream.”

Anthony isn’t trying to erase the Velvet Teddy Bear from our memory banks, but he’s doing a pretty decent job in giving us an alternative. He’s got dashing good looks, a great sense of swagger and a gorgeous set of bicultural pipes that can dip into both pop and R&B markets without the slightest bit of trepidation. Take It All, had it been a bit more adventurous, would have certainly cemented Anthony’s presence in the conversation of those hungry for the emerging R&B star. He misses the mark slightly on this affair, but will still satisfy the appetite of a select few. Moderately recommended.

By J Matthew Cobb

 
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