Ronnue Delivers Tasty New “Covers” LP

The crushing weight of the percussion is certainly familiar, as is the whispered “Done did it again” that greets us in the opening bars of the track, but in its totality, there’s something very different about both Ronnue and the song “Being With You” as they’re presented together in the new album Covers.

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As you might be able to guess, Covers is a record full of cover songs handpicked by Ronnue to demonstrate not only his capabilities as a singer and an arranger, but to further exhibit why many in the indie media have called his sound chameleon-like. In “Being With You,” he’s joined by the amazing Lisa G. Allen for a performance that feels startlingly imposing for how slow a song it truly is, but as they prove in “What Can I Do For You,” Allen and her leading man aren’t dependent on a simplistic compositional model when it comes to maxing out the chills-factor in the studio together. From these duets to the solo “That’s the Way Love Goes,” which itself feels like a B-side from Introduction 2 Retro-Funk, this is an artistic project designed to please the fans, and though I’m not usually a fan of covered material, this has left me wanting more. 

“I Can’t Tell You Why” has always been one of the most searing songs in the international pop songbook, and while his instrumental approach to the composition is a little stock, the vocal Ronnue puts down in this track literally gave me shivers down my spine the first time I listened to it. He’s channeling a thousand layers of soul and mild rock charismas of the most instinctual variety in this song, and despite a moderate hesitance at the hook, he manages to turn every move he makes into an element of communication aimed directly at connecting with the listeners. “She’s Always in My Hair” hits some similar high notes aesthetically, but in terms of melodic oomph, “Sex Shooter” is probably the only song here that tops what Ronnue does with “I Can’t Tell You Why.” He’s running though some of the most identifiable tracks of my youth in this piece, but somehow he’s making them sound as original as ever – in some cases a near half-century after their initial charting. 

Though I couldn’t have expected to be as wowed by Covers as I have been when I first gave “Fire” a spin just this past weekend, I probably should have anticipated as much from someone who already has an AOTY trophy under their belt at such an early stage of their career. Ronnue doesn’t just make a cover album in this release, but rather constructs a tribute to his heroes that still conveys a message of evolution to the audience that is supremely encouraging to hear if you like his music as much as I do. This has been anything but a conventional time in the industry, but from the looks of this LP, Ronnue could care less – his focus is, and always will be, on the music. 

Michael Rand

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