Remember when rnb singers had a lot to say about love? About how it made them feel and how its pitfalls affected them? Whether it reflected the breezy, delightful feeling of Cupid’s arrow, recounted the trials of trying to make it work, or mourned the fateful end, it seemed a prerequisite to turn out an rnb jam that would become a listener’s anthem.
Listeners accustomed to this style of rhythm and blues will be aware that this approach has taken a backseat nowadays, with many a crooner unleashing a torrent of tracks about one night stands, calling women side pieces, guilt surrounding said side pieces, strip clubs and panties (Ahem…R Kelly).
Now, the aforementioned may all be realities of life, but what else, pray tell, are we supposed to dedicate to the objects of our affection? Sure, we still have Eric Benet, Ginuwine, Tank, Joe and Brian McKnight, along with John Legend’s latest, but what about the youngins? Where are the new performers that bring the soul and passion to rnb?
Well, never fear, for we have newcomer Anthony Flammia to represent for all the lovers. Hailing from Yonkers, his debut album, Ups and Downs is a collection of warm musings about new love and the downsides stemming from when a relationship gets tough.
Clever sequencing allows the various stages of amor to play out in order. The sweet, giddy effects from meeting someone special are reflected on the smooth opening cut ‘See You Again’ and the striking piano ballad, ‘My Kind of Love’. If the writing is anything to go by, Flammia sure pays attention to the little things, from the way his love interest smiles, to her lame jokes and perfect laugh, all things that we, as an audience can relate to.
Things veer into potential wedding song territory with ‘Something About You’ and ‘All I See Is You’, a duet with Karen Rodriguez. Here, both Flammia and Rodriguez show exceptional vocal control, their rich tones gliding alongside each other nicely.
After a brief interlude that showcases Flammia’s impressive harmonizing skills, the record starts to focus on the problems that arise when things turn sour. There are recurring arguments (Round and Round) , accusations, self doubt (I Hate Your Guts) and longing, along with acceptance of the situations we may eventually find ourselves in. Album highlight ‘I Want You Back’ describes the feeling that settles in once the reality of a break up hits us and brims with the heartfelt intent of re-connection. If there is one thing that impresses most about Ups and Downs, it’s the way that it can connect with listeners on an emotional level.
Awash with great vocal arrangements, emotive impact and charisma, Ups and Downs is a fine debut that houses many a gem. While some artists shine best when covering either the good or bad aspects of a relationship, Anthony Flammia is more than capable of coming up with charming love songs, angry break up anthems and tunes for those still looking for the possibility of reconciliation. Throw in his slick piano skills and you’ve got a very talented new act you ought to keep an ear out for.