Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My Amazon Reviews: OneRepublic "Waking Up"

Waking Up Waking Up and Going Big
 3 Out Of 5 Stars

For their second album, OneRepublic mastermind Ryan Tedder must have woken up and decided if a lot of production was terrific, than over-production would be fabulous. As a songwriter to the stars (he counts Adele and Beyonce for resume points), he certainly knows his way around songwriting and hooks. But for a writer with so many soul and R'n'B artists on his Rolodex, when it comes to his own material, Tedder aims squarely at the rafters of the world's areanas, with a jealous eye towards the likes of Muse.

Take "All The Right Moves." The first song on the disc may be "Made For You," but that song ends with a children's choir that sings the "All The Right Moves" anthemic chorus just before the bombastic percussion for the song itself bursts in. Strings swell as Tedder arcs his voice for a final soaring falsetto on the chorus' catchy hook. same with "Secrets," where Tedder takes a page from his mentor Timbaland and mixes rap verses with a high flying chorus and more strings. Or the closer, "Lullaby." Every bit as sedate as the title suggests, it's also twice as earnest as it probably needs to be. "Waking Up" contains bombast, but it's a good kind of bombast.

Problem is, after awhile, you wish he'd just pull in the reins a little. The title track is such an obvious U2 clone that you wonder if Tedder stole it from an early draft of "Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark." The militaristic drumming of "Marching On" is overkill, even if the left, left, left right left hook is unshakable. The hooks throughout "Waking Up" are the calling card; they show exactly why Tedder has become such a go-to guy for the stars. Even my favorite song here, "Everybody Loves Me," strikes the perfect balance of snappy beats and earworm. Maroon 5 or Justin Timberlake would probably kill to get their teeth into it.

Unfortunately, and why this album ultimately gets an average rating from me, I don't hear an identity on "Waking Up." If Ryan Tedder wants to jump ahead of the likes of The Fray and become the equal to Maroon 5's Adam Levine (or genre champ Chris Martin of Coldplay), he's going to have to prove he's got more in him than ace writing chops. OneRepublic has the ambition, Tedder obviously knows both the writing and production craft, now it's to be determined if he can become in individual above the skill sets.

 Dreaming Out Loud 21 4 Free Wired

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