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Ricky Comeaux releases “If I Ruled the World”

The beats are rambunctious, the melody is lean, mean and sleekly tucked between the ridges of a chic percussive thrust. Ricky Comeaux starts to sing, and when he does, the verses are instantly familiar, though stained with an emotionality that might not have been as present in the original version of this cover song. In “I’ve Gotta Be Me,” much like all eleven of the tracks included on the all-new album If I Ruled the World, Comeaux brings a wealth of passion into the work he so artfully covers, and whether you’re a professional critic or simply a casual fan, his investment in the music is apparent from the get-go.

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Comeaux’s approach to both singing and arranging tends to center more on a conservative stylization in “Tell Me on a Sunday,” “If,” “Since I Fell for You” and “Theme from Kiss of the Spider Woman,” but I think that he still knows when it’s necessary to cut loose. After all, just spend a single listening session with “I’ve Gotta Be Me,” “Hallelujah,” “Carolina In the Morning” and the title cut here and you won’t be able to keep track of the cathartic moments, as they tend to come slipping out of the speakers in perfect succession.

I can imagine that all of the material on If I Ruled the World would sound even more powerful in a live setting than it does in this studio capacity, but with that said, the presence of Ricky Comeaux’s vocal – and moreover, the way that it dominates the master mix – in “I Don Quixote,” “It’s Over” and “Not While I’m Around” is something that even the most artistically novice of audiences could appreciate as theatrical, and most importantly, spellbinding. I’d love to hear him perform in person sometime, and if this record catches, demands for his going on tour will only increase.

The production quality in If I Ruled the World is supreme from top to bottom, but I think it’s important to note that nothing in this tracklist sounds overdone or overcomplicated to the point of inviting comparisons to the camp musical soundtracks that have recently (for whatever reason) been making a comeback in the American underground. Ricky Comeaux strikes me as someone who cares a lot more about the little details than most of his peers do, but that withstanding, he’s more than adept at keeping his music balanced in all the right ways.

If you love classic balladry performed by a brilliant vocalist with a knack for channeling some of the best and most recognizable harmonies in music, the new album from Ricky Comeaux was made specifically with you in mind. Whether it be the supple strands of melodicism that comprise “Theme from Kiss of the Spider Woman” or the vocal-centric eruption of emotion that we hear so vividly in the magnificent “Since I Fell For You,” this is an artist who can be relied upon for dishing out as many chills as he does thrills.

Mindy McCall

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