CD REVIEW: Derek Stroker - Love & Color
By Cyrus Rhodes - 06/13/2012 - 02:02 PM EDT
Artist: Derek Stroker
Album: Love & Color
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Jazz-Pop, Folk Rock and Pop
Sounds Like: Seal, Jason Mraz, SavageGarden, Al Green
Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Commercial Value: 10/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: Falling in Love, White Lies, Why We Fall in Love
Oakland, CA based singer/songwriter Derek Stroker collaborates with a several Nashville songwriters for his latest album entitled Love & Color. Derek Stroker is no stranger to the music business having recently been tempted to return to Orlando after five years in Nashville. But the heart of MusicCity is beating strongly throughout his latest full length album Love & Color – a powerful 11-track set of soul-infused pop/rock that blends a timeless old school sensibility with a contemporary flair and a unique perspective on the ups and downs of love in the modern world.
The CD gently takes flight with “Blue Skies” a smooth flowing intro piece that serves up delicate acoustic guitar groove against inviting piano, and passionate vocal harmonies from Stroker. This first is quite dynamic as it flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. Track 2 “Slow Motion” keeps thing moving in the smooth direction with impressive and upbeat vocal delivery from Stroker with steady flowing rhythm, smooth melodic guitar ambience thus making for an impressive follow up ballad. Track 3 “Spending Time” shifts gears a bit with its methodical vocal intro, gradually building into an impressive ballad with impressive musicianship and passionate vocal finale. The CD makes a great first impression dashing out 3 solid songs in a row. The musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. Along the way you will notice lush instrumentation with things like acoustic and jazz guitar, piano, impressive horns, percussive accents, Hammond Organ chops lush harmonies all built on a thick as a brick rhythm section. Now turning our attention over to Stroker - as for his vocal abilities, his voice works extremely well within the confines of this catalogue. His voice goes down smooth and fills the space peacefully and unobtrusively. I might add Stroker takes several vocal risks throughout the CD indicated to me a strong and extremely confident vocal ability. I suspect some of his vocal influences are – Jason Mraz, Seal, and Daren Hayes (SavageGarden) and Al Green. All songs are extremely well crafted and consistent musical statements across the board. From uplifting “Why We Fall In Love” to grooving “White Lies” to heartfelt “Falling in Love” and “Last Dance” to infectious Make up Your Mind” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 11 “Saved by a Song” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
I normally dedicated this paragraph to weaknesses I find. As you can see I have nothing to write.
This latest CD from Derek Stroker delivers 11 solid tracks all providing thought provoking wisdom with messages that are uplifting, passionate and positive. The music is highly passionate, uplifting and extremely entertaining. The songwriting – world class, all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair and signature groove. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really weak piece on this entire CD. The writing and playing abilities of Derek Stroker and his band are rock solid, the melodies and harmonies are well crafted and the lyrical content is packed to the hilt with rich conventional wisdom. Last but not least the vocal presence of Derek Stroker is world-class. Derek Stroker is an infectious artist worthy of spotlight, attention and praise – need I say more. Above all Derek Stroker delivers messages of hope and for the record I am glad he decided to stay in Nashville.
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