As the British scene continues to grow stronger, there is more realisation of the lack of R&B representation, especially when we’re well aware of the talent available. One of those talents in particular, is none other than Jermaine Riley. For those that have read previous reviews, you’ll be up to date with his history as part of the group Fundamental, a singing, dancing trio that may not have fulfilled their potential, none the less, it has not stopped the frontman from continuing on the solo path, and whilst it has been frustrating as a fan to see his work overlooked, as I listen to this latest album, those efforts and the struggle he deals with as an artist, have clearly sharpened his skill set, and more so polished the gold. Presenting Midas Touch:
Ten tracks to not only bring you up to date with the entertainer, but brings us to where R&B (especially within the country) is at today. Whilst this isn’t the first project from him, it is the most personally relevant, from the intro (with his adorable nephew), where you get glimpses of his raw vocal ability, to the song itself, Blue Peter, with it’s traditionally British theme (based off the show), and musically it upholds that very feeling. Sometimes when an artist has more than one strong ability, it is difficult to highlight them all, so from the get go he’s flexing his penman ship and flow, over the head-nodding Swiff D production. Next up is one of the standouts, the one you just know he’ll do justice live, Major, I’ve always found similarities in Jermaine and Omarion, vocally and as performers, and this track reminds me of the latter’s underrated Distance, it’s got that infectious bounce to it, and he proceeds so smoothly, it has to be noted that his vocal arrangement has vastly improved (something that becomes clearer throughout the project). It’s rare to get a project that can have such a variety of sounds and styles yet remain in sync overall, with songs like Move On and (the popular) Family, he is able to assert his presence, singing without compromise, and just when you think this is the tone of the album, he switches up the style on Let Me Go. I can’t remember hearing anything close to this from him, further pushing the boundaries, it reminded me of how I felt listening to the likes of Damage back in the day, in terms of that British blend of cultures.
I surprisingly enjoyed this album more than I thought I would, it’s a mature sound, his voice is sounding the best I’ve heard from him, he has lyrically delivered, and I’m sure he has some dope choreography planned for the tracks. Rather than altering his style, he’s honed it. The ad-libs are on point, like the notes hit at the end of The Reason (and so effortlessly). Whilst there’s evident confidence in the performance, tracks like Thick Girls & Hot Boys introduce more assertiveness from him as a person, what is initially a cool track, it adds to the personal aspect, very few songs are as open on sexuality without it being the focus, that makes it tasteful and will resonate widely, plus it has that classic Lumidee sample (which only adds to my Omarion comparison, as he also coincidently had that). I’m not sure if I was hoping for a slow jam on this album, but For Me helps serve that side, as it’s a slower tempo, and will undoubtedly work well within the live show/end of the night. That’s another thing about this album, it’s well ordered, and credit to Jermaine because he arranged it, followed by another favourite of mine, Make Love 2 U, similar tempo, but it has that feel of a perfect radio-single, with the cool verses and very catchy hook, the more I listen to Midas Touch, the more I hear how much he has been working on his craft and the evolution as such. Finishing off with Busy Enough, which almost delivers as an outro, upon which I realise that this album is heavy in quality, from start to finish.
Jermaine Riley’s previous attempts might not have been as successful as one would have liked, but with Midas Touch, those previous experiences have clearly helped in his development, and from the writing, recording, arranging, mixing and even the artwork, which is all done by himself, (with no real assistance) this end product is a much better representation of him and his ability, and is already receiving praise from old and new fans alike. Midas Touch is most definitely a step in the right direction, as he continues to prove his talents are golden.