CD REVIEW: Groovy Ruby - Strong, Lovin, and Fun
By Dan Cohen - 12/09/2008 - 10:43 PM EST
Artist: BAND: Groovy Ruby
Album: Strong, Lovin, and Fun
Genre: Children's (ages 5-13)
Sounds Like: Plain White Tees
Production/Musicianship Grade: 6/10
Commercial Value: 7/10
Overall Talent Level: 5/10
Songwriting Skills: 7/10
Performance Skill: 4/10
Best Songs: Change, You, Right Now, Valentine, Day By Day
Weakness: Bass heavy production, weak voices
Bubblegum pop is back with this cd from Groovy Ruby, the creation of producer/songwriter Dean Laterra. I'm a big fan of the genre, have a soft spot for The Monkees/Partridge Family/Hanson sort of sound this disc is going for. But for the genre to work, all the elements need to be in place and work seamlessly together. Bubblegum pop presents a beautiful if naive dream of life for (mostly) pre-teen girls. Reality must not and cannot creep in. I'm afraid there's a little too much reality on this disc.
Let's start positive. The songwriting is quite strong, with catchy tunes and memorable hooks, if a bit too consistently retro-50s in style. The first cut, 'Change', is reminiscent of the classic Brady Bunch tune 'Time for Change' where Peter sings about his voice changing. the Groovy Ruby girls don't quite make the note, and...it's kinda cute. At first. 'You' is a fun, upbeat number a la the old hit 'Mikki' (Oh Mikki you're so fine/You're so fine you blow my mind...&c) about a true friend who may or may not be God (there's a Bible quote on the inside cover). And 'Day by Day' is a sweet ballad, a bit fast, but a nice ending to the album.
My main problem with the cd is that the girls, a wholesome New Jersey quintet, just don't have very good voices, and the tunes and production don't do enough to cover for them. It often sounds as if they're singing at the top of their range, making their sound unnecessarily strained or off-pitch. And the lyrics are often about 'serious' relationships trying to 'reach another level'. For a record targeted at young girls, say 6-8 (I played it for my 10-year-old. She passed), the content seems a bit too sophisticated.
And speaking of sophisticated...packaging, my friends, packaging. Especially on an album for this demographic, the colors need to pop, there should be a sense of liveliness and fun, a sense in the listener of 'I wanna BE these girls! They're sooo cool!'. The front cover graphic is okay, but the picture on the back cover is absolutely atrocious. Badly lit, it looks like it was taken in an airport lounge at 5 in the morning. Or pasted together from separate vacations. The outfits not only don't match (o vain hope!) but look completely unrelated. What pop stars would wear that?!!! It ruins the dream.
Bottom line: That bubblegum don't pop
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